Swans Commentary » swans.com December 19, 2011  



Perspectives: A Review of 2011


A Few Thoughts And Two Books


by Isidor Saslav





(Swans - December 19, 2011)   Being confined largely to computer-stimulated pursuits for the last few months I can't help but notice this year's great streamlining and rendering more efficient of Web-based opinion taking. Every day I receive in my e-mail box several requests that petitions be signed or that a letter be sent to the president or to members of Congress, even to the head man at the XL pipeline promoters. One Web site even reeled off a whole series of petitions, perhaps 20 of them, each on a different topic, to which by a simple click the browser could affix his signature. I hope this is doing some sort of good because I certainly am availing myself of every opportunity to communicate with the powers that be via this Internet method. Of course, political money-raising via the Web is by now an old story -- witness Obama's successful use of that technique -- but opinion mining has perhaps taken on a wider reach and an increasing impact. Some of the organizations very active in this field are national resources and wildlife/animal defenders, women's rights groups, natural foods/supplements defenders, etc. No sooner has a cockamamie scheme or piece of legislation been introduced to enrich the already rich or to pass laws that take away our liberties of political association or our ability to consume healthful foods or to degrade our environment, than an organized group pops out and demands you to sign a petition to help prevent these becoming laws or regulations. More power to them.

A book among several which got my attention this year was Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States (1998) which I hadn't previously read, though I'm sure it must be old hat to most of Swans readers. What a tremendous page turner! What a great digging out of the archives of the little-known stories of dissent, rebellion, and revolution that have marked our continent's history nonstop right from the very beginning. I think my favorite quote so far has been Zinn's observation that in 1750 or so about 1% of the rich upper crust in the colonies owned about 40% of the wealth. Not much has changed in 250 years! The book begins with "Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress" (Chapter 1) and ends with "The 2000 Election and the 'War on Terrorism'" (Chapter 25). In between, Zinn writes about tyranny, slavery, the robber barons and the rebels, the empire and the people, the socialist challenge, the Vietnam War, and much more.

The Web site History is a Weapon has put the whole book online at http://www.historyisaweapon.com/zinnapeopleshistory.html and this is what they say about it: "We love A People's History of the United States and we love Howard Zinn. We think it possesses something few books ever contain: the potential to re-wire how people think of their government, their history, their relationship to democracy, and their own political agency. And from many conversations and emails, this potential continues to be realized over and over again, every day. Before it, the stories of coal miners resisting and slaves rebelling were relegated to folk songs or hidden away in some history classes taught in some places. Now a people's history can be found everywhere, from online to #169 on Amazon. We want it get out there even more and that's why we put it up and have promoted it so much. We want people to read the book." And so do I.

Another book that shaped my year was Thomas DiLorenzo's Lincoln Unmasked (2006). This book joins a not too populous library of books debunking the Lincoln myth point by point. For example: Lincoln the white supremacist during the Lincoln-Douglas debates; Lincoln not the rustic but the legal representative of railroad promoters (that's how he got the nomination); Lincoln the suppressor of civil liberties during the Civil War; etc. According to DiLorenzo the real cause of the Civil War was not slavery but the North's imposition of high tariffs on imported goods and South Carolina's nullification of these and its refusal to send that money to the federal government. For any iconoclast this book is a must.


To e-mail this article


· · · · · ·


If you find Isidor Saslav's work valuable, please consider helping us

· · · · · ·



Feel free to insert a link to this work on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary. However, DO NOT steal, scavenge, or repost this work on the Web or any electronic media. Inlining, mirroring, and framing are expressly prohibited. Pulp re-publishing is welcome -- please contact the publisher. This material is copyrighted, © Isidor Saslav 2011. All rights reserved.


Have your say

Do you wish to share your opinion? We invite your comments. E-mail the Editor. Please include your full name, address and phone number (the city, state/country where you reside is paramount information). When/if we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country.


About the Author

Isidor Saslav on Swans -- with bio.   (back)


· · · · · ·


Internal Resources

Years in Review

The World of Music

Arts & Culture

· · · · · ·


This edition's other articles

Check the front page, where all current articles are listed.



Check our past editions, where the past remains very present.

· · · · · ·


[About]-[Past Issues]-[Archives]-[Resources]-[Copyright]



Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art17/saslav29.html
Published December 19, 2011