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Eddie X. Barragan Dr. Keith A. Erekson Paul Johnson or Howard Zinn? History 1302: WHS/1865 December 9, 2011 According to the federal immigration authorities, besides passing language and civic tests, immigrants must now read a one-book length of history of the nation and its people in order to receive citizenship. The competition comes between the historians Paul Johnson and Howard Zinn, whose books, “A History of the American People” and “A People’s History of the United States,” respectively
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  Eddie X. Barragan History 1302: WHS/1865Dr. Keith A. Erekson Paul Johnson or Howard Zinn? December 9, 2011According to the federal immigration authorities, besides passing language and civictests, immigrants must now read a one-book length of history of the nation and its people inorder to receive citizenship. The competition comes between the historians Paul Johnson and Howard Zinn, whose books, “A History of the American People” and “A People’s History of theUnited States,” resp ectively, have become two of the most important choices. As an expertmyself assigned to this task  , I’ve decided that immigrants should read the book of Paul Johnson,not due to biased opinion but because of a well thought reason why they should. I believeHoward Zinn has many great ideas, a really good point of view, and crude feeling, it becomesinappropriate as reading material. Though this is true, Jo hnson’s point of view has a positivefeeling towards the government; mentioning many sides of the spectrum, making it the best.First of all, when it comes to their perspectives, both Zinn’s and Johnson’s are the exact opposite and nobody can argue that. This is due to the differences of how they were raised sincetheir childhood. A brief history of both of these historians shows why these books are sounfamiliar in nature. Zinn himself, being a historian, author, left-wing activist, was son of aJewish family. He was greatly influenced by Karl Marx which made him get involved insocialist/communist organizations; he could’ve been seen as an anarchist. In each piece of history, it is noticeable that he tries to point out the flaws in America’s heroes. Even he himself  mentions his bo ok “is a history of disrespectful of governments and respectful of people’smovements of resistance…that makes it a biased account, one that leans in a certain direction” (Zinn, Pg. 631).As for Johnson, he is a historian, journalist, author, and speechwriter who became amember of the Labor Party and was also a left-wing politic in Britain. He had ultimately resigned from the Labor Party and started to compare to the Mussolini’s Fascist party. He started  embracing new ideas from Margaret Thatcher (rhetorical convervatist) and became a right-wingideologist. With these new ideas in mind, he created the known book and in it he believes quite the opposite of Zinn and starts off his book by saying “The creation of the United States of  America is the gr eatest of all human adventures” (Johnson Pg. 1). This new conservative idealism created a desire for him to answer questions in his book, reading: 1). “Can a nation rise above the injustices of its srcins, and by its moral purpose and performance, atone f  or them?” 2). “ In the process of nation -  building, can ideals and altruism…be mixed successfully with acquisitiveness and ambition, without which no dynamic society can be b uilt at all?” and 3). “The Americans srcinally aimed…to be a model for the entire planet. Have they made good their audacious claims?” (Johnson, Pg. 1). Background information from both of these authorshelp initiate and bond the question of whose book is more appropriate.Being appropropriate is the first step, the second is to have the proper information anduse it as well. Zinn and Johnson use their historical sources in a very efficient way coveringmagazines, books, news, citizens, and even the government. Such sources are used widely inthese books where quotes and excerpts are used to quote another person, magazine, article,conference, discussion, court case, riot, speech, or even commentaries in newspapers. Johnson mainly focuses on quoting these different sources and doesn’t always get direct an d wholeexcerpts from entire scripts or lines. This method of delivering information is much moreunderstandable than putting a whole paragraph/s on quoting somebody/thing, this is what Zinndoes exactly. As for Johnson, for example, on page 560 among many is about the largest anexcerpt would get in his book when compared to Zinn, for example on page 543 a series of testimonies that actually take one whole page and a little extra on the book itself. Zinn may use a  lot of useful historical sources that actually support his point of view but ultimately toopolitically incorrect to introduce to entering immigrants.This is another important point of view, the idea that if we force immigrants to read textabout leftist ideas and conspiracies behavior would only cause the immigrant set of mind to be against the United States. We wouldn’t want to introduce contradictory ideas to the immigrantpublic right? These ideas would of course srcin from the “people’s history,” as Zinn calls it the disrespectful view of  the government. But what about the government people themselves? Aren’tthey involved as well? Yes! But Zinn conveniently doesn’t mention them; he makes theminorities, the rioters, and the protesters the majority. The evidence Zinn uses to support hiscla ims aren’t always so convincing as well. Such example would be that of a Reagan paragraphthat mentions in the years “1977 to 1989, the before - tax income of the richest 1% rose 77% … [while] the poorest [had] a sm all decline.” (Zinn, Pg. 581). A generation with Zinn conceptswould become a terrorist generation, maybe an exaggeration, but a possibility.Johnson, on the other hand, attempts to create a more fluent and enjoyable flow in thebook, highlighting several aspects of a situation. It can be seen in J ohnson’s story that the U.S. has good intentions which haven’t always succeeded compared to Zinn’s, where most have failed. When both of their stories are combined and compared, who becomes the most reliablefor an immigrant to read? The answer is obviousl y Paul Johnson’s book because he describes the majority which includes the wealthy and the poor, NOT the minority as Zinn does, whichdescribe the poor, the rioters, and the revolutionists mainly. Though these different points of views show a better understanding of their reliability, the use of historical sources also becomeimportant to proving it is true. This in turn leads to another argument; Zinn has a more non-credible view on a specific subject while Johnson is more modest about the majority of subjects  and tries to implement several different views. While Zinn would describe the government as anevil institution driven by self-centered economic and power-related interests, Johnson admits themistakes the U.S. has faced over the course of History, covering many sides of the spectrum. To become more specific now, Paul Johnson creatively and modestly, used the 5 C’s of  historical analysis to describe our nation’s history. Many examples can be mentioned but in orderto relate to the subject and show th e use of the 5 C’s, the mass immigration subject will be discussed. First, change can be analyzed before and after immigrants came in during 1870 to1912. These migrations occurred because the United States was expanding greatly in landscapes,wonders, and artifacts. This growth led authorities to expect further growth, they “though big,and ahead” (Johnson, Pg.513). The numbers prove that even before these years, the U.S. expanded in population; Civil War (31,443,321), End of Civil War (39,818,449), year 1880(passed 50 million), year 1890 (62,847,714), year 1900 (over 75 million), and during WWI(passed 100 million) (Johnson,Pg. 513). As for immigration, the causality view is very obvious,as the mass immigration influenced other people and the whole country by these numbers. Suchan example would be the increase in birth rates, infant mortality, and life expectancy  percentages. As Johnson explains, the birth rates “fell from 55 in1800 to 30.1 in 1900…infantmortality rate…[fell from] 217.4 in 1850 to 120.1   in 1900… and life expectancy rose: from 38.9 in 1850 to 49.6 in 1900” (Johnson, Pg. 513). These all combined together produced a very high rate of population increase, causing mass-immigration. A focus can be developed when lookingat these numbers and straying off might occur. During these years, many events transpiredespecially the Civil War and the First World War Knowing these facts help us understand why somany migrations occurred. A relationship must be first established, by noting where theseimmigrants came, there were Poles, Russian Jews, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Croatians, Slovenes,
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