The Historic Unfulfilled Promise

The Historic Unfulfilled Promise

by Howard Zinn
     
 

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"Passionate, iconoclastic, and wrly humorous . . . [Zinn] sometimes proves astounding in his almost clairvoyant analysis."—Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

Howard Zinn's life and work are the stuff of legend. His People's History of the United States has sold over two million copies and has altered how we see and teach history. A hero

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Overview

"Passionate, iconoclastic, and wrly humorous . . . [Zinn] sometimes proves astounding in his almost clairvoyant analysis."—Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

Howard Zinn's life and work are the stuff of legend. His People's History of the United States has sold over two million copies and has altered how we see and teach history. A hero in word and deed, Zinn's views on freedom, fairness, history, democracy, and our own human potential are educational and transformative. In few places is the genius of his voice more crystallized and accessible than in the dozens of articles he penned for The Progressive magazine from 1980 to 2009, offered together here in book form for the first time. Whether critiquing the Barack Obama White House, the sorry state of US government and politics, the tragic futility of US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the plight of working people in an economy rigged to benefit the rich and powerful, Zinn's historical clarity, unflappable optimism, and unshakable questions reverberate throughout The Historic Unfulfilled Promise: "Have our political leaders gone mad?" "What kind of country do we want to live in?" "What is national security?" "Do we have a right to occupy a country when the people of that country obviously do not want us there?" "Is not war itself terrorism?" "Should we not begin to consider all children, everywhere, as our own?" "Has the will of the people been followed?" The Historic Unfulfilled Promise is a genuine work of conscience, rich in ideas, charged with energy; an invaluable introduction for the uninitiated and a must-have for Zinn's fans.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This posthumous collection of Zinn’s passionate, iconoclastic, and wryly humorous articles from the Progressive magazine spans 30 years—from 1980 to 2010—though most are of 21st-century vintage. Zinn argues repeatedly for an alternative to war, totalitarianism, and redistribution of resources and energy away from the military and “toward ideals of egalitarianism, community, and self-determination... which have been the historic, unfulfilled promise of the word democracy.” Zinn (A People’s History of the United States) persists with his optimism and sometimes proves astounding in his almost clairvoyant analysis, as the essays progress from Boston University student and faculty protests against the Vietnam War and the academic “Establishment” through the two Iraq wars, to Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan. In addition, Zinn writes of his own youth and radicalization, and his admiration for artists who “wage the battle of justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse,” including a warm and perceptive memorial to Kurt Vonnegut, with whom he became friends late in life, and with whom he shared a conversion to pacifism after serving in WWII. His call to action will strike a chord with a younger generation of occupiers. Agent: The Ward & Balkin Agency. (July)
From the Publisher

"Both Zinn’s critics and his fans (there are many of both) will not see any appreciable watering-down of his often contentious views on democracy and war, the two subjects most abundantly represented here. But here there is also an opportunity to see a side of Zinn that was often kept private. His 2007 essay, 'Remembering Kurt Vonnegut,' for example, eulogizes the acclaimed novelist with a rather touching personal statement of Zinn’s own affection for him. A sharp and insightful collection from one of the country’s most visible historians and critics."—Booklist

"Howard Zinn's life and work are an unforgettable model, sure to leave a permanent stamp on how history is understood and how a decent and honorable life should be lived."—Noam Chomsky

"Proudly, unabashedly radical . . . Mr. Zinn delighted in debating ideological foes, not the least his own college president, and in lancing what he considered platitudes, not the least that American history was a heroic march toward democracy."—New York Times

"For Howard, democracy was one big public fight and everyone should plunge into it. That's the only way, he said, for everyday folks to get justic—by fighting for it."—Bill Moyers

"Howard Zinn was called a lot of different names: anarchist, socialist, and communist. He called himself a lot of different names, too: anarchist, socialist, and communist. No one ever seems to have called him Zen, but maybe it's time to start . . . The Historic Unfulfilled Promise is a testament to Zinn's Zen politics: his refusal to be silent, to acquiesce, or to sever his ties with the downtrodden."The Monthly Review

Kirkus Reviews
A collection of essays by American Left icon Zinn (The Bomb, 2010, etc.) originally published in the political journal The Progressive. "What kind of country do we want to live in?" asks the author in these essays dating mostly from the last years of his life, and thus following the historic arc from 9/11 to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the election of Obama. As always, he responds to this question with a radical's zeal, a historian's insights and an activist's optimism. War is on his mind. As the "war on terror" commenced, he railed against what he perceived to be the assault on American liberties this war had allowed. As the invasion of Iraq loomed, he warned against the countless lives that would be lost or ruined. As victory was declared in Iraq, Zinn was there to point out the horror of destroyed innocent lives and the chaos left behind. But the larger issue was war itself: "The abolition of war has become not only desirable but absolutely necessary if the planet is to be saved. It is an idea whose time has come." On the whole, this is not Zinn at his best, as these are, after all, polemical articles meant perhaps more to arouse the converted rather than enlighten the uninitiated. There is also a certain degree of repetition of themes and phrases, as will happen with any collection of articles not originally meant to be read together. Certainly, many readers will not appreciate his message, but the spirit and passion of the messenger, an American original, cannot be denied. A useful introduction to one of America's great scholar-activists.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780872865556
Publisher:
City Lights Books
Publication date:
06/12/2012
Series:
City Lights Open Media Series
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
919,568
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.67(d)

Meet the Author


Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 - January 27, 2010) was a historian, playwright, and activist. He wrote the classic A People's History of the United States, “a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories,” that has sold over two million copies to date. Zinn was a prolific writer and penned many books including The Bomb and A Power Governments Cannot Suppress. He was widely acknowledged in popular culture; A People’s History was even depicted in The Sopranos and The Simpsons.

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