We Are the People: Voices from the Other Side of American History
. Da Capo Press, $16.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-1-56025-505-5
As Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me) writes in his introduction, textbooks rarely""allow the past to speak,"" nor do they allow""regular folks"" to have their say. This volume is an attempt to fill both those gaps by collecting together 50 letters, essays, and personal accounts that give attention to the long-suppressed voices of Native Americans, slaves, women and the poor. For example, Nez Perce Chief Joseph's 1878 article explains how he tried to avoid battling with General Oliver O. Howard and asks that his people not be forced onto a reservation.""I see men of my race treated as outlaws and driven from country to country, or shot down like animals,"" he writes.""We ask to be recognized as men."" And in an excerpt from his autobiography, escaped slave William W. Brown describes the brutal forced submission of a proud and strong slave who refused to be whipped. More contemporary entries by John Steinbeck, Studs Turkel and Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickle and Dimed) reveal that the fight for civil and economic liberty is far from over. Though the biographical information about each author is rather scanty, this anthology makes an excellent, and useful, complement to any traditional history text.
Reviewed on: 10/27/2003