Howard Zinn, rest in peace

Author, teacher, and activist Howard Zinn has died, may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Howard Zinn, author of 'A People's History of the United States,' dies
USAToday

Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist A People's History of the United States became a million-selling alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Zinn died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, Calif., daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn said. The historian was a resident of Auburndale, Mass.

Published in 1980 with little promotion and a first printing of 5,000, A People's History was — fittingly — a people's best-seller, attracting a wide audience through word of mouth and reaching 1 million sales in 2003. Although Zinn was writing for a general readership, his book was taught in high schools and colleges throughout the country, and numerous companion editions were published, including Voices of a People's History, a volume for young people and a graphic novel

At a time when few politicians dared even call themselves liberal, A People's History told an openly left-wing story. Zinn charged Christopher Columbus and other explorers with genocide, picked apart presidents from Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrated workers, feminists and war resisters.

Historian-activist Zinn dies
The Boston Globe

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist whose books such as “A People’s History of the United States” prompted a generation to rethink the nation’s past, died yesterday in Santa Monica, Calif., where he was traveling. He was 87, and lived in the Newton village of Auburndale. His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he had a heart attack.


“He’s made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” Noam Chomsky, the activist and MIT professor, said last night. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can’t think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect.”

Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn’s writings “simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation.”

“He opened up approaches to history that were novel and highly significant,” Chomsky said. “Both by his actions and his writings for 50 years, he played a powerful role in helping and in many ways inspiring the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement.”

Comments (1)

Chomsky's is one leftist's view. Another leftist's view - one that still lies unanswered today although it was written in 2004 - is here:

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=385

"Zinn's big book is quite unworthy of such fame and influence. A People's History is bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions. Zinn reduces the past to a Manichean fable and makes no serious attempt to address the biggest question a leftist can ask about U.S. history: why have most Americans accepted the legitimacy of the capitalist republic in which they live? His failure is grounded in a premise better suited to a conspiracy-monger's Web site than to a work of scholarship. According to Zinn, "99 percent" of Americans share a "commonality" that is profoundly at odds with the interests of their rulers. And knowledge of that awesome fact is "exactly what the governments of the United States, and the wealthy elite allied to them-from the Founding Fathers to now-have tried their best to prevent.""

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