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Howard Zinn
Born August 24, 1922(1922-08-24)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died January 27, 2010 (aged 87)[1]
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Alma mater New York University (B.A.)
Columbia University (M.A.) (Ph.D.)
Occupation Professor, historian, playwright
Spouse(s) Roslyn Zinn (died 2008)[1]

Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010)[1] was an American historian, author, activist, playwright, intellectual and Professor of Political Science at Boston University from 1964 to 1988.[2] He wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States.[3] Zinn also wrote extensively about the civil rights, civil liberties and anti-war movements. His memoir, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train," became the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn's life and work.[4]


Life and career

Early life

Zinn was born to a Jewish immigrant family in Brooklyn. His father, Eddie Zinn, born in Austria-Hungary, emigrated to the U.S. with his brother Samuel before the outbreak of World War I. Howard's mother Jenny Zinn emigrated from the Eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk.

Both parents were factory workers with limited education when they met and married, and there were no books or magazines in the series of apartments where they raised their children. Zinn's parents introduced him to literature by sending 25 cents plus a coupon to the New York Post for each of the 20 volumes of Charles Dickens' collected works.[5] He also studied creative writing at Thomas Jefferson High School in a special program established by poet Elias Lieberman.[6]

World War II

Eager to fight fascism, Zinn joined the Army Air Force during World War II where he was assigned as a bombardier in the 490th Bombardment Group.[7] bombing targets in Berlin, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.[8] The anti-war stance Zinn developed later was informed, in part, by his experiences. In April, 1945, he participated in the first military use of napalm, which took place in Royan, western France.[9]

2nd Lieut. Howard Zinn, bombardier, Army Air Force in England, 1945.

On a post-doctoral research mission nine years after those bombing missions, Zinn visited the seaside resort near Bordeaux in southwest France where he interviewed residents, reviewed municipal documents and read wartime newspaper clippings at the local library. In 1966, Zinn returned to Royan after which he gave his fullest account of that research in his book, The Politics of History. On the ground, Zinn learned that the aerial bombing attacks—in which he participated—had killed more than 1000 French civilians as well as some German soldiers hiding near Royan to await the war's end, events that are described "in all accounts" he found as "une tragique erreur" that leveled a small but ancient city and "its population that was, at least officially, friend, not foe." In two books, The Politics of History and The Zinn Reader, Zinn described how the bombing was ordered—three weeks before the war in Europe ended—by military officials who were, in part, motivated more by the desire for career advancement than legitimate military objectives. He quotes the official history of the U.S. Army Air Forces' brief reference to the Eighth Air Force attack on Royan and also, in the same chapter, to the bombing of Pilsen in what was then Czechoslovakia. The official history stated, that the famous Skoda works in Pilsen "received 500 well-placed tons, and that "Because of a warning sent out ahead of time the workers were able to escape, except for five persons."

Zinn wrote, "I recalled flying on that mission, too, as deputy lead bombardier, and that we did not aim specifically at the "skoda works" (which I would have noted, because it was the one target in Czechoslovakia I had read about) but dropped our bombs, without much precision, on the city of Pilsen. Two Czech citizens who lived in Pilsen at the time told me, recently, that several hundred people were killed in that raid (that is, Czechs)--not five."[10]

Zinn said his experience as a wartime bombardier, combined with his research into the reasons for, and effects of the bombing of Royan and Pilsen, sensitized him to the ethical dilemmas faced by G.I.s during wartime.[11] Zinn questioned the justifications for military operations that inflicted massive civilian casualties during the Allied bombing of cities such as Dresden, Royan, Tokyo, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, Hanoi during the U.S. War in Vietnam, and Baghdad during the U.S. war in Iraq and the civilian casualties during bombings in Afghanistan during the U.S.'s current and nearly decade old war there. In his pamphlet, Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence[12] written in 1995, he laid out the case against targeting civilians with aerial bombing.

Six years later, he wrote: "Recall that in the midst of the Gulf War, the U.S. military bombed an air raid shelter, killing 400 to 500 men, women, and children who were huddled to escape bombs. The claim was that it was a military target, housing a communications center, but reporters going through the ruins immediately afterward said there was no sign of anything like that. I suggest that the history of bombing—and no one has bombed more than this nation—is a history of endless atrocities, all calmly explained by deceptive and deadly language like "accident," "military target," and "collateral damage."[13]


After World War II, Zinn attended New York University on the GI Bill, graduating with a B.A. in 1951 and Columbia University, where he earned an M.A. (1952) and a Ph.D. in history with a minor in political science (1958). His masters' thesis examined the Colorado coal strikes of 1914.[14] His doctoral dissertation LaGuardia in Congress was a study of Fiorello LaGuardia's congressional career, and it depicted LaGuardia representing "the conscience of the twenties" as LaGuardia fought for public power, the right to strike, and the redistribution of wealth by taxation.[14] "His specific legislative program," Zinn wrote, "was an astonishingly accurate preview of the New Deal." It was published by the Cornell University Press for the American Historical Association. La Guardia in Congress was nominated for the American Historical Association's Beveridge Prize as the best English-language book on American history.[15]

While at Columbia, his professors included Harry Carman, Henry Steele Commager, and David Donald.[14] But it was Columbia historian Richard Hofstadter's The American Political Tradition that made the most lasting impression. Zinn regularly included it in his lists of recommended readings, and after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, Zinn wrote, "If Richard Hofstadter were adding to his book The American Political Tradition, in which he found both "conservative" and "liberal" presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, maintaining for dear life the two critical characteristics of the American system, nationalism and capitalism, Obama would fit the pattern."[16]

In 1960-61, Zinn was a post-doctoral Fellow in East Asian Studies at Harvard University.

Academic career

We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness-embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, and television. This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas.

 Howard Zinn, 2005[17]

Zinn was Professor of History at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia from 1956 to 1963, and Visiting Professor at both the University of Paris and University of Bologna.

Fresh from writing two books about his research, observations, and participation in the Civil Rights movement in the South, Zinn accepted a position at Boston University in 1964. His classes in civil liberties were among the most popular at the university with as many as 400 students subscribing each semester to the non-required class. A Professor of Political Science, he taught at BU for 24 years and retired in 1988.

"He had a deep sense of fairness and justice for the underdog. But he always kept his sense of humor. He was a happy warrior," said Caryl Rivers, journalism professor at Boston University. Rivers and Zinn were among a group of faculty members who in 1979 defended the right of the school's clerical workers to strike and were threatened with dismissal after refusing to cross a picket line.[18]

Zinn came to believe that the point of view expressed in traditional history books was often limited. He wrote a history textbook, A People's History of the United States, to provide other perspectives on American history. The textbook depicts the struggles of Native Americans against European and U.S. conquest and expansion, slaves against slavery, unionists and other workers against capitalists, women against patriarchy, and African-Americans for civil rights. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1981.[19]

In the years since the first edition of A People's History was published in 1980, it has been used as an alternative to standard textbooks in many high school and college history courses, and it is one of the most widely known examples of critical pedagogy. According to the New York Times Book Review it "routinely sells more than 100,000 copies a year".[20]

In 2004, Zinn published Voices of A People's History of the United States with Anthony Arnove. Voices is a sourcebook of speeches, articles, essays, poetry and song lyrics by the people themselves whose stories are told in A People's History.

The People Speak, scheduled for release on DVD in February 2010, is a documentary movie inspired by the lives of ordinary people who fought back against oppressive conditions over the course of the history of the United States. The film includes performances by Zinn, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Viggo Mortensen, Josh Brolin, Danny Glover, Marisa Tomei, Don Cheadle, and Sandra Oh.[21][22][23]

Civil Rights movement

From 1956 through 1963, Zinn chaired the department of history and social sciences at Spelman College. He participated in the Civil Rights movement and lobbied with historian August Meier[24] "to end the practice of the Southern Historical Association of holding meetings at segregated hotels."[25]

While at Spelman, Zinn served as an adviser to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and in 1964, Beacon Press published his book SNCC: The New Abolitionists. Zinn collaborated with historian Staughton Lynd mentoring student activists, among them Alice Walker,[26] who would later write The Color Purple, and Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund. Edelman identified Zinn as a major influence in her life and, in that same journal article, tells of his accompanying students to a sit-in at the segregated white section of the Georgia state legislature.[27]

Although Zinn was a tenured professor, he was dismissed in June 1963, after siding with students in the struggle against segregation. As Zinn described[28] in The Nation, though Spelman administrators prided themselves for turning out refined "young ladies, its students were likely to be found on the picket line, or in jail for participating in the greater effort to break down segregation in public places in Atlanta. Zinn's years at Spelman are recounted in his autobiography You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. His seven years at Spelman College, Zinn said, "are probably the most interesting, exciting, most educational years for me. I learned more from my students than my students learned from me."[29]

While living in Georgia, Zinn wrote that he observed 30 violations of the First and Fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution in Albany, Georgia, including the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and equal protection under the law. In an article on the civil rights movement in Albany, Zinn described the people who participated in the Freedom Rides to end segregation, and the reluctance of President John F. Kennedy to enforce the law.[30] Zinn has also pointed out that the Justice Department under Robert F. Kennedy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, headed by J. Edgar Hoover, did little or nothing to stop the segregationists from brutalizing civil rights workers.[31]

Zinn wrote about the struggle for civil rights, both as participant and historian[32] His second book, The Southern Mystique[33] was published in 1964, the same year as his SNCC: The New Abolitionists in which he describes how the sit-ins against segregation were initiated by students and, in that sense, were independent of the efforts of the older, more established civil rights organizations.

In 2005, forty-one years after his firing, Zinn returned to Spelman where he was given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and gave the commencement address[34][35] where he said in part, during his speech titled, "Against Discouragement," that "The lesson of that history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies."[36]

Anti-war efforts

Zinn wrote one of the earliest books calling for the U.S. withdrawal from its war in Vietnam. Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was published by Beacon Press in 1967 based on his articles in Commonwealth, The Nation, and Ramparts.

In Noam Chomsky's view, The Logic of Withdrawal, was Zinn's most important book. "He was the first person to say—loudly, publicly, very persuasively—that this simply has to stop; we should get out, period, no conditions; we have no right to be there; it's an act of aggression; pull out. That was so surprising at the time—it became more commonplace later—that he couldn't even—there wasn't even a review of the book. In fact, he asked me if I would review it in Ramparts just so that people would know about the book."[37]

In December 1969, radical historians tried unsuccessfully to persuade the American Historical Association to pass an anti-Vietnam War resolution. "A debacle unfolded as Harvard historian (and AHA president in 1968) John Fairbank literally wrestled the microphone from Zinn's hands."[38] Correspondence by Fairbank, Zinn and other historians, published by the AHA in 1970, is online in what Fairbank called "our briefly-famous Struggle for the Mike".[39]

In later years, Zinn was an adviser to the Disarm Education Fund.[40]


Zinn's diplomatic visit to Hanoi with Rev. Daniel Berrigan, during the Tet Offensive in January 1968, resulted in the return of three American airmen, the first American POWs released by the North Vietnamese since the U.S. bombing of that nation had begun. The event was widely reported in the news media and discussed in a variety of books including Who Spoke Up? American Protest Against the War in Vietnam 1963–1975 by Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan.[41] Zinn and the Berrigan brothers, Dan and Philip, remained friends and allies over the years.

Daniel Ellsberg, a former RAND consultant who had secretly copied The Pentagon Papers, which described the internal planning and policy decisions of the United States government during the Vietnam War, gave a copy of them to Howard and Roslyn Zinn.[42] Along with Noam Chomsky, Zinn edited and annotated the copy of The Pentagon Papers that Ellsberg entrusted to him. Zinn's longtime publisher, Beacon Press, published what has come to be known as the Senator Mike Gravel edition of The Pentagon Papers, four volumes plus a fifth volume with analysis by Chomsky and Zinn.

At Ellsberg's criminal trial for theft, conspiracy, and espionage in connection with the publication of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times, defense attorneys called Zinn as an expert witness to explain to the jury the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from World War II to 1963. Zinn discussed that history for several hours, later reflecting on his time before the jury. "I explained there was nothing in the papers of military significance that could be used to harm the defense of the United States, that the information in them was simply embarrassing to our government because what was revealed, in the government's own interoffice memos, was how it had lied to the American public. The secrets disclosed in the Pentagon Papers might embarrass politicians, might hurt the profits of corporations wanting tin, rubber, oil, in far-off places. But this was not the same as hurting the nation, the people," Zinn wrote in his autobiography. Most of the jurors later said that they voted for acquittal. [p. 161] However, the federal judge dismissed the case on the ground that it had been tainted by the Nixon administration's burglary of the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

Zinn's testimony as to the motivation for government secrecy was confirmed in 1989 by Erwin Griswold, who as U.S. solicitor general during the Nixon administration, prosecuted The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case in 1971.[43] Griswold persuaded three Supreme Court justices to vote to stop The New York Times from continuing to publish the Pentagon Papers, an order known as "prior restraint" that has been held to be illegal under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The papers were simultaneously published in The Washington Post, effectively nulling the effect of the prior restraint order. In 1989, Griswold admitted that there was no national security damage resulting from the publication of the papers.[43] In a column in the Washington Post, Griswold wrote: "It quickly becomes apparent to any person who has considerable experience with classified material that there is massive over classification and that the principal concern of the classifiers is not with national security, but with governmental embarrassment of one sort or another."

Zinn supported the G.I. antiwar movement during the U.S. war in Vietnam. In the 2001 film Unfinished Symphony, Zinn provides a historical context for the 1971 antiwar march by Vietnam Veterans against the War. The marchers traveled from Lexington, Massachusetts, to Bunker Hill, "which retraced Paul Revere's ride of 1775 and ended in the massive arrest of 410 veterans and civilians by the Lexington police." The film depicts "scenes from the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings,[44] during which former G.I.s testified about atrocities" they either participated in or witnessed in Vietnam.[45]


Howard Zinn speaking at Marlboro College February 2004.

Zinn opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and wrote several books about it. He asserted that the U.S. would end its war with, and occupation of, Iraq when resistance within the military increased, in the same way resistance within the military contributed to ending the U.S. war in Vietnam. He compared the demand by a growing number of contemporary U.S. military families to end the war in Iraq to the parallel "in the Confederacy in the Civil War, when the wives of soldiers rioted because their husbands were dying and the plantation owners were profiting from the sale of cotton, refusing to grow grains for civilians to eat."[46] Zinn argued that "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable."[47]

Jean-Christophe Agnew, Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, told the Yale Daily News in May 2007 that Zinn’s historical work is "highly influential and widely used".[48] He observed that it is not unusual for prominent professors such as Zinn to weigh in on current events, citing a resolution opposing the war in Iraq that was recently ratified by the American Historical Association.[49] Agnew added, “In these moments of crisis, when the country is split — so historians are split.”[50]

Palestine & Israel

Zinn was a founding member of Jewish Voices of Peace's Advisory Board and he was a tremendous supporter to the work and vision for justice and full equality in Israel and Palestine. He spoke out on behalf of the Shministim, Israel's young conscientious objectors who waited in jail for refusing to serve the occupation. He considered the military occupation of West Bank intolerable, focusing on how the subjugation of millions of Palestinians hurts Israelis and Palestinians alike.[51]


Zinn described himself politically as “Something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist.” [52] He believed that it was important for Americans to take another look at socialism in its full historical context. In 2009 at an event in Madison, Wisconsin, Zinn implored the audience:

"Let's talk about socialism. I think it's very important to bring back the idea of socialism into the national discussion to where it was at the turn of the [last] century before the Soviet Union gave it a bad name. Socialism had a good name in this country. Socialism had Eugene Debs. It had Clarence Darrow. It had Mother Jones. It had Emma Goldman. It had several million people reading socialist newspapers around the country. Socialism basically said, hey, let's have a kinder, gentler society. Let's share things. Let's have an economic system that produces things not because they're profitable for some corporation, but produces things that people need. People should not be retreating from the word socialism because you have to go beyond capitalism."[53]


Zinn was swimming in a hotel pool when he died of an apparent heart attack.[54] in Santa Monica, California on January 27, 2010. He had been scheduled to speak at the Santa Monica Museum of Art for an event titled "A Collection of Ideas... the People Speak."[55]

In one of his last interviews[56] he said he'd like to be remembered "for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality," and "for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it. Black people in the South used it. People in the women's movement used it. People in the anti-war movement used it. People in other countries who have overthrown tyrannies have used it."

He said he wanted to be known as "somebody who gave people a feeling of hope and power that they didn't have before."[57]

Zinn is survived by his daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn, son Jeff Zinn and five grandchildren.[58]"


I can't think of anyone who had such a powerful and benign influence. His historical work changed the way millions of people saw the past. The happy thing about Howard was that in the last years he could gain satisfaction that his contributions were so impressive and recognized.

For his leadership in the Peace Movement, Zinn received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in 1996. He received the Thomas Merton Award and, in 1998, the Eugene V. Debs Award.[59] In 1998, he won the Lannan Literary Award[60] for nonfiction and the following year won the Upton Sinclair Award, which honors social activism. In 2003, Zinn was awarded the Prix des Amis du Monde diplomatique[61] for the French version of his seminal work, Une histoire populaire des Etats-Unis.

On October 5, 2006, Zinn received the Haven's Center Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship in Madison, Wisconsin.[62]

References in popular culture

  • An interview with Zinn is featured in the documentary film Sacco and Vanzetti (2007).
  • The Pearl Jam song "Down" from the album Lost Dogs (album) was inspired by the band's friendship with Zinn.
  • Actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who grew up near Zinn and were family friends, gave "A People's History" a plug in their Academy Award-winning screenplay for Good Will Hunting.[4]
  • Marge Simpson is seen reading "A People's History" in The Simpsons episode 1911 That 90's Show, which flashes back to when Marge was in college.
  • Musician Bruce Springsteen's, bleak album "Nebraska" was inspired in part by "A People's History."[4]
  • "A People's History" was the basis for the 2007 documentary, Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind."[4]
  • The NOFX song Franco Un-American references Howard Zinn.
  • In the System Of A Down song "Deer Dance", about Police Brutality against peaceful protest, Zinn is paraphrased in the line "We can't afford to be neutral on a moving train".
  • In 2007, the bluesman Watermelon Slim (Bill Homans) ([]) begins his Blues Music Award-nominated CD, No Paid Holidays, with the song "Blues For Howard", which references Howard Zinn's lifechanging World War Two experience, and his memoir, You Can't Stay Neutral On A Moving Train.



  • Artists in Times of War (2003) ISBN 1-58322-602-8.
  • The Cold War & the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years (Noam Chomsky (Editor) Authors: Ira Katznelson, R. C. Lewontin, David Montgomery, Laura Nader, Richard Ohmann,[63] Ray Siever, Immanuel Wallerstein, Howard Zinn (1997) ISBN 1-56584-005-4.
  • Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1991) ISBN 0-06-092108-0.[64]
  • Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies on Law and Order (1968, re-issued 2002) ISBN 0-89608-675-5.
  • Emma: A Play in Two Acts About Emma Goldman, American Anarchist (2002) ISBN 0-89608-664-X.
  • Failure to Quit: Reflections of an Optimistic Historian (1993) ISBN 0-89608-676-3.
  • The Future of History: Interviews With David Barsamian (1999) ISBN 1-56751-157-0.
  • Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence (pamphlet, 1995) ISBN 1-884519-14-8.
  • Howard Zinn On Democratic Education Donaldo Macedo, Editor (2004) ISBN 1-59451-054-7.
  • Howard Zinn on History (2000) ISBN 1-58322-048-8.
  • Howard Zinn on War (2000) ISBN 1-58322-049-6.
  • You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times (1994) ISBN 0-8070-7127-7
  • Justice in Everyday Life: The Way It Really Works (Editor) (1974) ISBN 0-89608-677-1.
  • Justice? Eyewitness Accounts (1977) ISBN 0-8070-4479-2.
  • La Otra Historia De Los Estados Unidos (2000) ISBN 1-58322-054-2.
  • LaGuardia in Congress (1959) ISBN 0-8371-6434-6, ISBN 0-393-00488-0.
  • Marx in Soho: A Play on History (1999) ISBN 0-89608-593-7.
  • New Deal Thought (editor) (1965) ISBN 0-87220-685-8.
  • Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics (2006) Howard Zinn and David Barsamian.
  • Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice (2003) ISBN 0-06-055767-2.
  • The Pentagon Papers Senator Gravel Edition. Vol. Five. Critical Essays. Boston. Beacon Press, 1972. 341p. plus 72p. of Index to Vol. I-IV of the Papers, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, editors.
  • A People's History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom by David Williams, Howard Zinn (Series Editor) (2005) ISBN 1-59558-018-2.
  • A People's History of the United States: 1492 – Present (1980), revised (1995)(1998)(1999)(2003) ISBN 0-06-052837-0.
  • A People's History of the United States: Teaching Edition Abridged (2003 updated) ISBN 1-56584-826-8.
  • A People's History of the United States: The Civil War to the Present Kathy Emery and Ellen Reeves, Howard Zinn (2003 teaching edition) ISBN 1-56584-725-3.
  • A People's History of the United States: The Wall Charts by Howard Zinn and George Kirschner (1995) ISBN 1-56584-171-9.
  • A People's History of American Empire (2008) by Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki and Paul Buhle. ISBN 978-0805087444.
  • The People Speak: American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known (2004) ISBN 0-06-057826-2.
  • Playbook by Maxine Klein, Lydia Sargent and Howard Zinn (1986) ISBN 0-89608-309-8.
  • The Politics of History (1970) (2nd edition 1990) ISBN 0-252-06122-5.
  • Postwar America: 1945–1971 (1973) ISBN 0-89608-678-X.
  • A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (2006) ISBN 978-0872864757.
  • The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace Editor (2002) ISBN 0-8070-1407-9.
  • SNCC: The New Abolitionists (1964) ISBN 0-89608-679-8.
  • The Southern Mystique (1962) ISBN 0-89608-680-1.
  • Terrorism and War (2002) ISBN 1-58322-493-9 (interviews, Anthony Arnove (Ed.)).
  • The Twentieth Century: A People's History (2003) ISBN 0-06-053034-0.
  • Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century (Dana Frank, Robin Kelley, and Howard Zinn) (2002) ISBN 0-8070-5013-X.
  • Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal (1967) ISBN 0-89608-681-X.
  • Voices of a People’s History of the United States (with Anthony Arnove, 2004) ISBN 1-58322-647-8; 2nd edition (2009) ISBN 978-1-58322-916-3.
  • A Young People's History of the United States, adapted from the original text by Rebecca Stefoff; illustrated and updated through 2006, with new introduction and afterword by Howard Zinn; two volumes, Seven Stories Press, New York, 2007.
    • Vol. 1: Columbus to the Spanish-American War. ISBN 978-1-58322-759-6.
    • Vol. 2: Class Struggle to the War on Terror. ISBN 978-1-58322-760-2.
    • One-volume edition (2009) ISBN 978-1-58322-869-2.
  • The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy (1997) ISBN 1-888363-54-1; 2nd edition (2009) ISBN 978-1-58322-870-8.


  • Admirable Radical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945–1970 (2010), Kent State University Press by Carl Mirra ISBN 978-1-60635-051-5
  • A Gigantic Mistake by Mickey Z, (2004) ISBN 1-930997-97-3.
  • A People's History of the Supreme Court by Peter H. Irons (2000) ISBN 0-14-029201-2.
  • A Political Dynasty In North Idaho, 1933-1967 by Randall Doyle (2004) ISBN 0-7618-2843-5.
  • American Political Prisoners: Prosecutions Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts by Stephen M. Kohn (1994) ISBN 0-275-94415-8.
  • American Power and the New Mandarins by Noam Chomsky (2002) ISBN 1-56584-775-X.
  • Broken Promises Of America: At Home And Abroad, Past And Present: An Encyclopedia For Our Times by (Douglas F. Dowd (2004) ISBN 1-56751-313-1.
  • Deserter From Death: Dispatches From Western Europe 1950-2000 by Daniel Singer (2005) ISBN 1-56025-642-7.
  • Ecocide of Native America: Environmental Destruction of Indian Lands and Peoples by Donald Grinde, Bruce Johansen (1994) ISBN 0-940666-52-9.
  • Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle by William A. Pelz (2000) ISBN 0-9704669-0-0.
  • From a Native Son: Selected Essays in Indigenism, 1985–1995 by Ward Churchill (1996) ISBN 0-89608-553-8.
  • Green Parrots: A War Surgeon's Diary by Gino Strada, (2005) ISBN 88-8158-420-4.
  • Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear And The Selling Of American Empire by Sut Jhally editor, Jeremy Earp editor, (2004) ISBN 1-56656-581-2.
  • If You're Not a Terrorist…Then Stop Asking Questions! by Micah Ian Wright, (2004) ISBN 1-58322-626-5.
  • Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal by Anthony Arnove, (2006) ISBN 978-1-59558-079-5.
  • Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney Dennis Loo (Editor), Peter Phillips (Editor) Seven Stories Press: 2006) ISBN 1583227431.
  • Life of an Anarchist: The Alexander Berkman Reader by Alexander Berkman Gene Fellner, editor, (2004) ISBN 1-58322-662-1.
  • Long Shadows: Veterans' Paths to Peace by David Giffey editor, (2006) ISBN 1-89185-964-9.
  • Masters of War: Latin America and United States Aggression from the Cuban Revolution Through the Clinton Years by Clara Nieto, Chris Brandt (trans) (2003) ISBN 1-58322-545-5.
  • Peace Signs: The Anti-War Movement Illustrated by James Mann, editor (2004) ISBN 3-283-00487-0.
  • Prayer for the Morning Headlines: On the Sanctity of Life and Death by Daniel Berrigan (poetry) and Adrianna Amari (photography), (2007) ISBN 978-1-934074-16-9.
  • Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-9-11 Anti-terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties by Nancy Chang, Center for Constitutional Rights (2002) ISBN 1-58322-494-7.
  • Soldiers In Revolt: GI Resistance During The Vietnam War by David Cortright, (2005) ISBN 1-931859-27-2.
  • Sold to the Highest Bidder: The Presidency from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush by Daniel M. Friedenberg (2002) ISBN 1-57392-923-9.
  • The Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman Intro by Norman Mailer, Afterword by HZ (2000) ISBN 1-56858-197-1.
  • The Case for Socialism by Alan Maass, (2004) ISBN 1-931859-09-4.
  • The Forging of the American Empire: From the Revolution to Vietnam, a History of U.S. Imperialism by Sidney Lens (2003) ISBN 0-7453-2101-1.
  • The Higher Law: Thoreau on Civil Disobedience and Reform by Henry David Thoreau, Wendell Glick, editor, (2004) ISBN 0-691-11876-0.
  • The Iron Heel by Jack London, (1971) ISBN 0-143-03971-7.
  • The Sixties Experience: Hard Lessons about Modern America by Edward P. Morgan, (1992) ISBN 1-56639-014-1.
  • You Back the Attack, We'll Bomb Who We Want by Micah Ian Wright, (2003) ISBN 1-58322-584-6.
  • A People's History of the American Revolution by Ray Raphael, (2002) ISBN 0-06-000440-1 Howard Zinn Foreword for New Press People's History Series.


  • A People's History of the United States (1999)
  • Artists in the Time of War (2002)
  • Heroes & Martyrs: Emma Goldman, Sacco & Vanzetti, and the Revolutionary Struggle (2000)
  • Stories Hollywood Never Tells (2000)
  • You Can't Blow Up A Social Relationship, CD including Zinn lectures and performances by rock band Resident genius (Thick Records, 2005)[65]



  • Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (film 2004)[66]
  • Davis D. Joyce, Howard Zinn: A Radical American Vision (Prometheus Books, 2003), ISBN 1-59102-131-6

See also


  1. ^ a b c Feeney, Mark (27 January 2010). "Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87". USA: Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  2. ^ July 05, 2008 (2008-07-05). "Howard Zinn'a political philosophy connected to democratic socialism, although he was sympathetic to anarchism". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  3. ^ Howard Zinn, Historian, Is Dead at 87, January 28, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e Howard Zinn Dead, Author Of 'People's History Of The United States' Died At 87 by Hillel Italie, The Huffington Post, January 27, 2010.
  5. ^ HOWARD ZINN- One Step Ahead of the Landlord.
  6. ^ Appel, Jacob M. Chronicing Lives From Spelman College to B.U. Education Update, April 2004.
  7. ^ The Politics of History 2nd ed. by Howard Zinn (University of Illinois Press, 1990) pp. 258-274) ISBN 0252016734.
  8. ^ "film clip of Zinn". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  9. ^ Zinn, Howard (1990). Declarations of Independence. New York, NY: HarperPerennial. ISBN 0060921080. 
  10. ^ The Politics of History p. 260.
  11. ^ "Interview with Zinn". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  12. ^ Zinn Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence by Howard Zinn.
  13. ^ "A Just Cause, Not a Just War" The Progressive December, 2001.
  14. ^ a b c Appel, JM. Howard Zinn: Chronicling Lives from Spelman College to Boston U., April 2004.
  15. ^ January 29, 2010 "Howard Zinn, Historian, Is Dead at 87".
  16. ^ "What next for struggle in the Obama era?" The Socialist Worker November 5, 2008, Issue 684.
  17. ^ Changing Minds, One at a Time by Howard Zinn, Published in the March 2005 issue of The Progressive.
  18. ^ Activist, historian Howard Zinn dies at 87 by Ros Krasny at Reuters January 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  19. ^ The National Book Awards Winners & Finalists. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  20. ^ "Backlist to the Future" by Rachel Donadio, July 30, 2006.
  21. ^ "people-s-history-moves-small-screen 2009/11/03". 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  22. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  23. ^ "History channel". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  24. ^ "Biography of August Meier". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  25. ^ Organization of American Historians. Obituary of August Meier, May 2003 by John Bracey University of Massachusetts, Amherst [1].
  26. ^ Alice Walker remembers Howard Zinn. January 31, 2010 in the Boston Globe.
  27. ^ Edelman, Marian Wright. "Spelman College: A Safe Haven for A Young Black Woman." The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 27 (2000): 118-123.
  28. ^ "Finishing School for Pickets" By Howard Zinn in The Nation August 6, 1960.
  29. ^ "Interview with Zinn". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Media Filter article on Zinn". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  32. ^ "Reporting Civil Rights, Part one: American Journalism 1941-1963". The Library of America. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  33. ^ "Intervew with Zinn". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  34. ^ "Exodus News article on Zinn". Atlanta Inquirer (Georgia) via 2005-05-11. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  35. ^ Brittain, Victoria (28 January 2010). "Howard Zinn's Lesson To Us All". The Guardian. 
  36. ^ "Tomgram: Graduation Day with Howard Zinn". Retrieved 2010-01-28.  full text of "Against Discouragement."
  37. ^ Howard Zinn (1922-2010): A Tribute to the Legendary Historian with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Anthony Arnove.
  38. ^ "Forty Years On: Looking Back at the 1969 Annual Meeting" by Carl Mirra [ February 2010 issue of Perspectives on History published by the American Historical Association.
  39. ^ From the June 1970 AHA Newsletter "Professional Comment and Controversy: An Open Letter to Howard Zinn".
  40. ^ Disarm National Advisory Board. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  41. ^ Who Spoke Up? American Protest Against the War in Vietnam 1963–1975. Horizon Book Promotions. 1989. ISBN 0-385-17547-7. 
  42. ^ [Ellsberg autobiography, Zinn autobiography].
  43. ^ a b Blanton, Tom (2006-05-21). "The lie behind the secrets". Los Angeles Times.,0,1992884.story. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  44. ^ Winter Soldier Investigation. 1971. 
  45. ^ CINEASTE pp. 91, 96. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  46. ^ Interview with Zinn.
  47. ^ ""Terrorism Over Tripoli" from Zinn Reader, Seven Stories Press (1993) excerpted online". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  48. ^ "Zinn calls for activism". Yale Daily News. 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  49. ^ "American Historical Association Blog: Iraq War Resolution is Ratified by AHA Members". 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  50. ^ Yu, Lea. "Historian Howard Zinn Calls for Activism –". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  51. ^ "Jewish Peace Nes". 2010-29-01. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  52. ^ "War is the Health of the State: An Interview with Howard Zinn"], By Paul Glavin & Chuck Morse, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2003.
  53. ^ Howard Zinn: The Historian Who Made History by Dave Zirin, The Huffington Post, January 28, 2010.
  54. ^ "Howard Zinn, Historian, Is Dead at 87" The New York Times January 29, 2010.
  55. ^ Howard Zinn dies at 87; author of best-selling People's History of the United States: Activist collapsed in Santa Monica, where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture. by Robert J. Lopez, January 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  56. ^ Howard Zinn video in nine parts.
  57. ^ Howard Zinn: How I Want to Be Remembered.
  58. ^ Feeney M, Marquard B (2010-01-27). "Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87.". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  59. ^ Eugene V Debs Foundation Member Awards. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  60. ^ "Lannan Foundation – Howard Zinn". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  61. ^ "Prix des Amis du Monde diplomatique 2003 – Les Amis du Monde diplomatique". Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  62. ^ "Zinn to receive Havens Center award (October 4, 2006)". 2006-10-04. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  63. ^ "Politics of Knowledge: Richard Ohmann". UPNE. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  64. ^ Declarations of independence: cross-examining American ideology By Howard Zinn.
  65. ^ "You Can't Blow Up A Social Relationship".
  66. ^ FRF's Judith Mizrachy interviews Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, directors of the film HOWARD ZINN: YOU CAN’T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN. Retrieved 2010-03-09.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Howard Zinn (born 1922-08-24) is an American historian, political scientist, playwright and activist.



  • If those in charge of our society — politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television — can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.
    • Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1991): "American Ideology" [1]
  • If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, nor as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one's country, one's fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.
    • Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1991): "Obligation to the State" [2]
  • There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable.
  • The First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights in the United States Constitution were being violated in Albany again and again — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the equal protection of the laws — I could count at least 30 such violations. Yet the president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, and all the agencies of the United States government at his disposal, were nowhere to be seen.
  • At the great Washington March of 1963, the chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis, speaking to the same enormous crowd that heard Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream," was prepared to ask the right question: "Which side is the federal government on?" That sentence was eliminated from his speech by organizers of the March to avoid offending the Kennedy Administration. But Lewis and his fellow SNCC workers had experienced, again and again, the strange passivity of the national government in the face of Southern violence, strange, considering how often this same government had been willing to intervene outside the country, often with overwhelming force.

    John Lewis and SNCC had reason to be angry. John had been beaten bloody by a white mob in Montgomery as a Freedom Rider in the spring of 1961. The federal government had trusted the notoriously racist Alabama police to protect the Riders, but done nothing itself except to have FBI agents take notes. Instead of insisting that blacks and whites had a right to ride the buses together, the Kennedy Administration called for a "cooling-off period," a moratorium on Freedom Rides.

  • The white population could not possibly be unaffected by those events — some whites more stubborn in their defense of segregation, but others beginning to think in different ways. And the black population was transformed, having risen up in mass action for the first time, feeling its power, knowing now that if the old order could be shaken it could be toppled.
  • I am not an absolute pacifist, because I can't rule out the possibility that under some, carefully defined circumstances, some degree of violence may be justified, if it is focused directly at a great evil. Slave revolts are justified, and if John Brown had really succeeded in arousing such revolts throughout the South, it would have been much preferable to losing 600,000 lives in the Civil War, where the makers of the war — unlike slave rebels — would not have as their first priority the plight of the black slaves, as shown by the betrayal of black interests after the war. Again, the Zapatista uprising seems justified to me, but some armed struggles that start for a good cause get out of hand and the ensuring violence becomes indiscriminate. Each situation has to be evaluated separately, for all are different. In general, I believe in non-violent direct action, which involve organizing large numbers of people, whereas too often violent uprisings are the product of a small group. If enough people are organized, violence can be minimized in bringing about social change.
  • [Regarding the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki]: To put it briefly: the evidence is quite overwhelming on this matter. The Japanese had sent an envoy (Ambassador Sato) to Moscow (still officially a neutral) to work out a negotiated surrender. An instruction from Foreign Minister Togo came in a telegram (intercepted by American intelligence, which had broken the Japanese code early in the war), saying: "Unconditional surrender is the only obstacle to peace... It is His Majesty's heart's desire to see the swift termination of the war." The Japanese had one condition for surrender which the U.S. refused to meet — recognizing the sanctity of the Emperor. It seemed the U.S. was determined to drop the bomb before the Japanese could surrender — for a variety of reasons, none of them humanitarian. After the war, the official report of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, based on hundreds of interviews with Japanese decision-makers right after the war, concluded that the war would have ended in a few months by a Japanese surrender "even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."
  • Why should we accept that the "talent" of someone who writes jingles for an advertising agency advertising dog food and gets $100,000 a year is superior to the talent of an auto mechanic who makes $40,000 a year? Who is to say that Bill Gates works harder than the dishwasher in the restaurant he frequents, or that the CEO of a hospital who makes $400,000 a year works harder than the nurse or the orderly in that hospital who makes $30,000 a year? The president of Boston University makes $300,000 a year. Does he work harder than the man who cleans the offices of the university? Talent and hard work are qualitative factors which cannot be measured quantitatively.
  • Scholars, who pride themselves on speaking their minds, often engage in a form of self-censorship which is called "realism." To be "realistic" in dealing with a problem is to work only among the alternatives which the most powerful in society put forth. It is as if we are all confined to a, b, c, or d in the multiple choice test, when we know there is another possible answer. American society, although it has more freedom of expression than most societies in the world, thus sets limits beyond which respectable people are not supposed to think or speak. So far, too much of the debate on Vietnam has observed these limits.
  • One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression. Patriotism becomes the order of the day, and those who question the war are seen as traitors, to be silenced and imprisoned.
  • Not only did waging war against Hitler fail to save the Jews, it may be that the war itself brought on the Final Solution of genocide. This is not to remove the responsibility from Hitler and the Nazis, but there is much evidence that Germany's anti-Semitic actions, cruel as they were, would not have turned to mass murder were it not for the psychic distortions of war, acting on already distorted minds. Hitler's early aim was forced emigration, not extermination, but the frenzy of it created an atmosphere in which the policy turned to genocide.
  • We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.
  • The term 'just war' contains an internal contradiction. War is inherently unjust, and the great challenge of our time is how to deal with evil, tyranny, and oppression without killing huge numbers of people.
    • Terrorism and War (2002)
  • I would encourage people to look around them in their community and find an organization that is doing something that they believe in, even if that organization has only five people, or ten people, or twenty people, or a hundred people. And to look at history and understand that when change takes place it takes place as a result of large, large numbers of people doing little things unbeknownst to one another. And that history is very important for people to not get discouraged. Because if you look at history you see the way the labor movement was able to achieve things when it stuck to its guns, when it organized, when it resisted. Black people were able to change their condition when they fought back and when they organized. Same thing with the movement against the war in Vietnam, and the women's movement. History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.
  • Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.

A People's History of the United States (1980)

This book, originally published in 1980, has been printed in a number of updated and revised additions. The chapter numbers used here are for quotes found in the linked online edition.

  • It is possible, reading standard histories, to forget half the population of the country. The explorers were men, the landholders and merchants men, the political leaders men, the military figures men. The very invisibility of women, the overlooking of women, is a sign of their submerged status.
  • While some multimillionaires started in poverty, most did not. A study of the origins of 303 textile, railroad and steel executives of the 1870s showed that 90 percent came from middle- or upper-class families. The Horatio Alger stories of "rags to riches" were true for a few men, but mostly a myth, and a useful myth for control.
  • One percent of the nation owns a third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and the unskilled. These groups have resented one another and warred against one another with such vehemence and violence as to obscure their common position as sharers of leftovers in a very wealthy country.
  • Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes.
  • There is the past and its continuing horrors: violence, war, prejudices against those who are different, outrageous monopolization of the good earth's wealth by a few, political power in the hands of liars and murderers, the building of prisons instead of schools, the poisoning of the press and the entire culture by money. It is easy to become discouraged observing this, especially since this is what the press and television insist that we look at, and nothing more.
    But there is also the bubbling of change under the surface of obedience: the growing revulsion against endless wars, the insistence of women all over the world that they will no longer tolerate abuse and subordination... There is civil disobedience against the military machine, protest against police brutality directed especially at people of color.
    • 1999 edition, page 661


  • Americans have been taught that their nation is civilized and humane. But, too often, U.S. actions have been uncivilized and inhumane.

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