Goodbye Howard Zinn

Goodbye Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, dissident historian, dead at 87

Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose book A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.) became a million-selling leftist alternative to mainstream texts, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87 and lived in 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

“I can’t think of anyone who had such a powerful and benign influence,” said the linguist and fellow activist Noam Chomsky, a close friend of Zinn’s. “His historical work changed the way millions of people saw the past.”

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.

I always liked this quote:

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

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