Books: Non-Fiction

A Young People’s History of the United States: Revised and Updated

Book — Non-fiction. By Howard Zinn, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff with additions by Ed Morales. 2022. 544 pages.
A young adult version of the best-selling A People’s History of the United States.

Time Periods: 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, All US History
Themes: African American, Asian American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Imperialism, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, LGBTQ, Native American, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Social Class, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, Women's History

book cover showing freedom riders protesting near a busA Young People’s History of the United States brings to U.S. history the viewpoints of workers, enslaved people, immigrants, women, Black people, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, and others whose stories, and their impact, are rarely included in textbooks.

Beginning with a look at Christopher Columbus’s arrival through the eyes of the Arawak Indians, then leading the reader through the struggles for workers’ rights, women’s rights, and civil rights during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and ending with the current protests against continued U.S. imperialism. [Publisher’s description.]

ISBN: 9781644212509 | Seven Stories Press

Table of Contents

  • A Note on this Edition
  • Introduction
  • Introduction by Ed Morales: A New Narrative

Part One

  • Columbus and American Indians
  • Black and White
  • Who Were the Colonists?
  • Tyranny is Tyranny
  • Revolutions
  • The Women of Early America
  • As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs
  • War with Mexico
  • Slavery and Emancipation
  • The Other Civil War
  • Robber Barons and Rebels
  • The American Empire

Part Two

  • Class Struggle
  • World War I
  • World War II and the Cold War
  • Black Revolt and Civil Rights
  • Vietnam
  • Surprises
  • The Latino Emergence
  • Under Control?
  • Politics as Usual
  • Resistance
  • The End of the Twentieth Century
  • The “War on Terrorism”
  • War in Iraq, Conflict at Home
  • Our Voices Need to Be Heard
  • Conclusion: “Rise Like Lions”

Teacher Quotes

I knew A Young People’s History of the United States book was working when students started to come into upper-level classes talking about Claudette Colvin before Rosa Parks was mentioned!

The book is very accessible to my students and it’s a great way to differentiate the class materials.

—Ashley Lock
High School Social Studies Teacher, St. Louis, Missouri

I adopted A Young People’s History of the United States as my primary textbook this year and my students love it! It fits especially well with my theme of resistance for the year. Already in the first few weeks of school they have learned how to be critical of the unified “us” and “we” narratives of the people that make up the United States found in more traditional textbooks, and they now reflexively ask for the larger story of anything they read.

Instead of marching through U.S. history from the “beginning” in 1492 to the current era, I have shaped my course by units, and the chapters in the A People’s History book allow me to jump around as needed to give them the information they need to understand each topic, but also how each topic or group of people ties into the others.

Using the book, and the materials at the Zinn Education Project website, the students are taking a hard look at what they’ve been taught, learning from voices they otherwise might not get to hear, and grasping a deeper level of the multiple “we’s” that make up US.

—Katie Ayers
High School Social Studies Teacher, Farmington, Connecticut

The combination of using student-led and inquiry discussions this year with A Young People’s History has changed the entire dynamic of humanities this year.

Students come to class bursting with questions and ideas to start discussions.

There has been a significant increase in engagement, motivation, connections to current events, and in general learning to question most everything, as well as history (something kids appreciate a lot).

—Dee Hammons
Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Port Townsend, Washington

A Young People’s History of the United States is a staple in our classroom. We take a look at the “discovery” of the Americas through the lens of those that were “discovered” and hold to account the colonizers who brought pain, suffering, and death to native populations. We learned that Columbus and his crew also used violence and brutality toward the Taíno people. They enslaved many Taíno men, women, and children, and, by some estimates, the Taíno population declined from millions to just a few thousand within a few decades of Columbus’ arrival.

By learning about events like wars, genocide, slavery, and oppression, young people can develop a greater appreciation for the struggles of those who came before them and the progress that has been made. Students need to know the “hard history” because, without it, our story is incomplete. It provides a sense of empathy for others who have experienced hardship and injustice, and can inspire young people to work towards a better, more equitable future for all. By confronting and acknowledging unpleasant parts of history, we can work towards reconciliation and healing and create a more just society.

—Douglas Brown
Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Noblesville, Indiana

Andrea Baca
Compton, California Teacher

6 comments on “A Young People’s History of the United States: Revised and Updated

  1. Kristen on

    I really wish there was a third version of the book like this that was more high school leveled. A People’s History is too much for average reader in the classroom and A Young People’s is too low. I would love to see a more middle approach for my general level students who could be slightly challenged but not have to either struggle too much or too little.

  2. It's SOUTH Carolina friends on

    I really hope the error on page 143, referring to “Fort Sumter, North Carolina” has been corrected.

  3. Rhonda Feder on

    Zinn is sometimes used in lessons from Reading Like a Historian (, along views that may contrast or take a different point of view — a good way to challenge kids to think for themselves. Zinn tends to resonate with students – almost all of mine have asked for copies of the book — wish I could give it to each of them! I teach 8th grade.

  4. Star Jossy on

    I would love to know if anyone has written study guides or even lesson plans for this book. I want to teach this to my 11 year old son and would love some help.

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