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I'm reading Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." More than 700 pages long, it starts with Columbus and continues. I've reached World War II, and in the process, have learned so many episodes of American history I hadn't heard about before that I've forgotten many of them already. Zinn's book, which has sold more than 2 million copies since it was published in 1980, tells American history from a working class point of view and spends a lot of time looking at labor movements -- workers' efforts to unionize, strikes and so on. His viewpoint, I would say, is skeptical and pessimistic. What are usually seen as steps forward for working people, such as the New Deal and various worker protections, are presented by Zinn as the concessions the country's business and political leaders needed to make to placate workers so the country would remain stable and the elite could continue exploiting everyone else. But it's a lively, eye-opening read and a point of view that is at least as valid as the optimistic, patriotic one that is the default setting for most American histories.

Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at will@poststar.com and followed on his blog, I think not, and on Twitter at

@trafficstatic.

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