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Reason Behind Bias

Essay by   •  June 19, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,816 Words (8 Pages)  •  2,068 Views

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There are biases everywhere, from journalism to broadcasting and even small amounts of the educational system that is taught throughout the United States. It is hard to find clues from textbooks that show the author's opinion on the topics they are writing about, but they are there. To discover what they are doing, it is best to read different pieces of writing from different authors on the same subject. It can show what one of them left out or felt was more important to highlight or to go into greater detail about. American history during the time of the civil war was forever divided into the two mind sets from the Northern Union and the Southern Confederates. Slavery can't be covered up, but it can be downplayed and written to seem less horrid than it was. Both point of views of the war hardly come out together, and to get a better understanding of what it would be like to live in the nineteenth century, it takes several different works of writing to get into the head of both the North and the South. Howard Zinn, Jay Winik, and Alan Brinkley all portray American history from their own bias based on their beliefs and the way they were raised; it is all a matter of finding the biases and the reasons behind them.

An examination of the very foundation of how and where the authors grew up must take place to fully understand their biases and writing styles of this author. Born on August 24, 1922 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Howard Zinn grew up in a working class family (Howard Zinn Biography | BookRags.com, Howard Zinn Biography.). His parents were both Jewish immigrants; his father was born in Austria Hungary and his mother was from Eastern Siberia. They both were factory workers and had little education or money to support their family (Howard Zinn - Biography.). Early on Zinn would read the works of Charles Dickins and other pieces of literature that he could afford. He was enlisted in the Air Force as a bomber in World War II, receiving an Air Medal and Flying Stars (Howard Zinn Biography | BookRags.com). His opposition toward war was greatly influenced by his experience with the destruction and carnage of what he saw in Europe (Howard Zinn Biography.). After the air force he studied at New York University and Columbia University to receive his Ph.D., B.A., and M.A. in history (Howard Zinn - Biography.)

Civil rights became a big issue for him in the late 50's and early 60's. He became chairman of an all girls' African American school at Spelman College. While there, he witnessed civil rights and even participated in the movement. When he saw the violence towards African Americans and the lack of protection from the government, he began to be critical of their plans and actions. Already a liberal at the time, he became even more involved in the rights of citizens; these feelings tie back to pre-civil war abolitionist movements which he wrote about (Howard Zinn Biography | BookRags.com).

Howard Zinn and his bestselling book A People's History of the United States show a different side of American History (Howard Zinn Biography | BookRags.com). His books are written for an audience willing to accept the horrible events that people of the United States have caused. Zinn provides the reader with more first hand accounts from slaves before, during, and after the civil war. He is not leaving out details that would down play the fact that America enslaved and discriminated blacks or other races that were thought to be subordinates (Zinn, by Howard). In his book, he first talks about how other writing on slavery doesn't fully get into what it would be like to live as a slave during that time (Zinn 172). He writes, "But can statistics record what it meant for families to be torn apart, when a master, for profit, sold a husband or a wife, a son or a daughter?" (Zinn 172). There is little to no censorship that goes into A People's History of the United States; he gets his point across even though his book has been criticized and felt to be insulting to governments (Kazin).

Zinn emphasizes the common person's side of history rather than just the elite. His writing prospective takes the shape of the lower class of society, because of his influence by growing up as part of that social structure (Howard Zinn Biography.). Not only was Howard writing about real accounts of slavery and speaking out against it, but he was also talking about the hardships of labor and work during the reconstruction period after the Civil War (Zinn 243). He even looked back to his hometown history and the things that went on in it. Talking about the labor depression in Brooklyn he wrote, "During the first three months of 1874, ninety thousand workers, almost half of them women, had to sleep in police stations in New York... All over the country people were evicted from homes. Many roamed the cities looking for food" (Zinn 242). Zinn captures more than just the facts; he captures the mind of the people who had to deal with the hardships. Controversial because of his views, Howard Zinn presents American History in a far different manner than most people will learn in their school's curriculum. Over the years, his books have been revised and revised again to make them seem less anti-American and to change them to a story that the government thinks is more suitable for people to read (Kazin).

The author of the New York Times bestseller April 1865, Jay Winik, was born February 8, 1957 (Jay Winick). He was the youngest child in his family with two older brothers and grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. Although a historian now, his first loves happened to be Marvel Comics and art. However, these would not influence his views about the American Civil war, but could easily influence his writing style. Jay grew up in a more middle class family; his

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