Books: Non-Fiction

Rethinking America’s Past

Book — Non-fiction. By Robert Cohen and Sonia E. Murrow. 2021. 344 pages.
The first work to use archival and classroom evidence to assess the impact that Zinn's classic work has had on historical teaching and learning and on U.S. culture.
Time Periods: 20th Century, All US History
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Education, Media, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

Rethinking America’s Past: Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in the Classroom and Beyond is the first work to use archival and classroom evidence to assess the impact that Zinn’s classic work has had on historical teaching and learning and on U.S. culture. This evidence refutes the right wing attacks, showing that rather than indoctrinating students, Zinn’s book has been used by teachers to have students debate and rethink conventional versions of U.S. history.

Rethinking America’s Past also explores the ways Zinn’s work fostered deeper, more critical renderings of the U.S. past in movies and on stage and television and traces the origins and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of A People’s History in light of more recent historical scholarship.

The authors are Robert Cohen, a professor of history and social studies at New York University, and Sonia Murrow, an associate professor of the social foundations of education and adolescence education in the School of Education at Brooklyn College.

Free E-Book for Educators

Thanks to a generous donation from the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, the University of Georgia Press is offering up to 500 free e-books (via Edelweiss) to teachers and teacher educators. Fill out the form below and you will receive the link to download the book via Edelweiss. (Note that you will need an Edelweiss account.)


Discount on Printed Copies for Educators

Teachers and teacher educators can also purchase a hard copy of the paperback edition for a 40% discount and free shipping if you use the code 08ZINNEP anytime before March 31.

More About the Book

Education scholar Pedro Noguera noted in his endorsement,

In this important new book, Cohen and Murrow remind us why Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is too important a book to be forgotten. Through careful analysis of his seminal work, the authors show us how the book can be used in classrooms today to remind students that from the very beginning, America’s history has been shaped by oppression and resistance, conflict as well as cooperation among those who have frequently been rendered invisible by the grand narratives that have been constructed in the name of patriotism and allegiance.

For educators and students who know that history is much more than a collection of facts and dates, and who seek to understand the social processes that have shaped the formation of this nation, this book will be an invaluable resource.

Read about the book in this article by Cohen and Murrow for The Nation, “Debate and Controversy Make History Education Better.

ISBN: 9780820360348 | University of Georgia Press

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