The best books to read after Howard Zinn’s A People’s History Of The United States

Erik Loomis Author Of A History of America in Ten Strikes
By Erik Loomis

The Books I Picked & Why

The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America

By Ahmed White

The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America

Why this book?

Once you’ve read Zinn, you are going to want to know more about the workers’ struggle. Among recent books, you can’t do better than Ahmed White’s book on this iconic struggle of the 1930s, when the steel companies massacred strikers and even the Roosevelt administration did nothing about it. Powerful story and very well-written.


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Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

By Heather Ann Thompson

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Why this book?

When Zinn published his book in 1980, the tumultuous events of the recent past were too soon for him to explore in much detail. One of the more horrifying events of the 1970s was the crushing of the Attica prison riot in 1971. Heather Thompson tells this story with great attention paid to the activists fighting for dignity behind bars and the indifference to the lives of prisoners from politicians, the police, and much of the public. With police violence and incarceration major political issues today, Thompson’s book is a must-read to gain historical context that will both inspire and outrage readers.


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Empire of Cotton: A Global History

By Sven Beckert

Empire of Cotton: A Global History

Why this book?

I have never read a book that so powerfully explores how capitalism has used racial violence, not only in the United States but around the world. Using cotton as a method to explore global history, Beckert will make you rethink everything you’ve heard about capitalism bringing peace and prosperity around the world.


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A Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement

By Kent Blansett

A Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement

Why this book?

One of Zinn’s great insights that still inspires readers today is that there are all these histories of struggle that do not get taught. Not even Zinn could explore all of them. In the last four decades, historians have uncovered amazing tales of struggle in the face of incredible oppression.

Today, even as we pay more attention to the history of American racism than ever before, we do not learn nearly enough about Native American history. What we do learn is often far in the past. But Native Americans continue to fight for their rights today. Blansett’s biography of Richard Oakes, who led the Alcatraz takeover in 1969, will open up an entirely new history for you, one that demonstrates that we cannot understand modern American history without placing the Native struggle for sovereignty and power at the center of it.


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Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

By Barbara Ransby

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

Why this book?

There are so many amazing leaders of the Black Freedom Struggle. But other than a very few (King, Malcolm, Rosa Parks, etc), we know very little about them. Ella Baker was an amazing organizer who made huge changes in the world, despite facing not only racism from the white world but also sexism from male civil rights leaders. Ransby is a superb biographer of Black women on the left who transformed the world. Arguably, no one in the civil rights movement was more important than Ella Baker. Moreover, this is a great book on how to organize. Anyone interested in organizing will learn a lot here.


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