The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracyby Howard Zinn
No other radical historian has reached so many hearts and minds as Howard Zinn. It is rare that a historian of the Left has managed to retain as much credibility while refusing to let his academic mantle change his beautiful writing style from being anything but direct, forthright, and accessible. Whether his subject is war, race, politics, economic justice, or history itself, each of his works serves as a reminder that to embrace one's subjectivity can mean embracing one's humanity, that heart and mind can speak with one voice. Here, in six sections, is the historian's own choice of his shorter essays on some of the most critical problems facing America throughout its history, and today.
This portly tome is primarily intended for the Howard Zinn faithful, of course, of whom there are likely to be many; his People's History of the United States has sold 400,000 copies, after all. For the uninitiated, this collection offers a useful introduction to Zinn's idealistic, Marxist-anarchist view of the world, a view he has championed for many decades. Zinn began his career as a historian at Atlanta's Spelman College, then a school for African-American women; fittingly, a large part of his book is given over to first-hand reports on the civil-rights movement in the South. Rejecting too-easy black-versus-white views of the struggle, Zinn insists that class analysis be brought to bear on the study of inequality: "Once the superficiality of the physical is penetrated and seen for what it is," he writes, "the puzzle of race loses itself in whatever puzzle there is to human behavior in general. Once you begin to look, in human clash, for explanations other than race, they suddenly become visible." Elsewhere Zinn combs through the annals of American history to turn up examples of the evils of capitalism, discussing among other subjects the conduct of the Spanish-American War, the brutal suppression of the Filipino Revolt, the origins of the abolitionist movement, and the ironies of the war in Vietnam (he notes that in 1966 the US was paying $34 in condolence money for each Vietnamese civilian accidentally killed in air strikesbut $87 for every rubber tree thus destroyed). When not looking deep into the past, Zinn cheerfully lampoons such conservative foes as the late Allan Bloom, who "swoons over Plato," and generally has a good time arguing for an equitable, just, and division-free America.
A worthy gathering for Zinn fans and fledgling historians alike.
- Seven Stories Press
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Meet the Author
HOWARD ZINN’s (1922–2010) great subject isn’t war, but peace. After his experience as a bombardier in World War II, he became convinced that there could be no such thing as a “just war,” as the vast majority of modern warfare’s victims are made up of innocent civilians. In his books, including A People’s History of the United States and its companion volume, Voices of a People’s History of the United States, Zinn affirms the power of the masses to influence major events. Through a lifetime of pointed scholarship and principled civil disobedience, he has led and continues to lead generations in the ways of peace.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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