Saturday, April 05, 2008

Notes On People's History Of American Empire

by Al Hart and Gary Huck

Labor and political cartoonist Mike Konopacki -- close friend and collaborator of UE's cartoonist Gary Huck -- has produced a brilliant book-length graphic adaptation of a major portion of Howard Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States. Created in collaboration with Zinn and historian Paul Buhle, Konopacki's A People's History of American Empire tells, in pictures and text, the story of U.S. government and corporate policies of controlling other people's countries -- from the seizure of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba in the Spanish-American War, to George Bush's invasion of Iraq. But it also shows that U.S. foreign policy is and always has been inseparable from domestic policies that have stolen land from and massacred Native Americans, crushed workers' movements, and employed racism and immigrant bashing to divide and conquer working people.

In 1980 Howard Zinn published A People's History of the United States , a big but highly readable and engaging retelling of American history "from the bottom up." In the standard textbooks most of us endured in school, "history" was something that was done by "great men," and people like us were largely invisible. But in Zinn's history, starting in 1492, Native Americans, sailors, slaves, immigrants, women, and other workers are at the center of things. Zinn's book tells the truth about the misdeeds of the rulers -- the ways they have attempted throughout our history to suppress democracy at home and to dominate other countries, all for the sake of greater corporate profit. He rebuts the official story line that U.S. government policy always advances "our national interest" and that its generous goals have been to "spread freedom and democracy."

Zinn's People's History is now in its sixth edition, the latest version published in 2005. Each new edition updates the book with recent developments. It has sold 1.7 million copies and is now used as a textbook in many classrooms. By creating a comic book version that is very attractive and great fun to read, Konopacki will enable Howard Zinn's important ideas about American history to reach an even larger audience.

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  • Animated Video With Voiceover By Viggo Mortensen

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    Tom Engelhardt Introduction
    Howard Zinn, The End of Empire?

    In Iraq, in Afghanistan, and at home, the position of the globe's "sole superpower" is visibly fraying. The country that was once proclaimed an "empire lite" has proven increasingly light-headed. The country once hailed as a power greater than that of imperial Rome or imperial Britain, a dominating force beyond anything ever seen on the planet, now can't seem to make a move in its own interest that isn't a disaster. The Iraq government's recent offensive in Basra is but the latest example with -- we can be sure -- more to come.

    In the meantime, the fate of that empire, lite or otherwise, is the subject of Howard Zinn today at Tomdispatch, and of a new addition to his famed People's History of the United States. The new book represents a surprise breakthrough into cartoon format. It's a rollicking graphic history, illustrated by cartoonist Mike Konopacki, that takes us from the Indian Wars to the Iraqi "frontier" (with some striking autobiographical asides from Zinn's own life). It's called A People's History of American Empire. It's a gem ...

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  • History In Graphic Format
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