The Indispensable Zinn: The Essential Writings of the "People's Historian"
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When the historian Howard Zinn died in early 2010, millions mourned the loss of one of our foremost intellectual and political guides: a historian, activist, and truth-teller who, in the words of the New York Times’s Bob Herbert, “peel[ed] back the rosy veneer of much of American history.”
Designed to highlight Zinn’s most important writings, The Indispensable Zinn includes excerpts from Zinn’s bestselling A People’s History of the United States; his memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train; his inspiring writings on the civil rights movement; and the full text of his celebrated play Marx in Soho. Noted historian and activist Timothy Patrick McCarthy provides essential historical and biographical context for each selection.
With an introduction from Zinn’s former Spellman College student and longtime friend Alice Walker and an afterword by Zinn’s friend and colleague Noam Chomsky, The Indispensable Zinn is both a fitting tribute to the legacy of a man whose “work changed the way millions of people saw the past” (Noam Chomsky) and a powerful and accessible introduction for anyone discovering Zinn for the first time.
lives, their freedom, they risked being put in jail. Also, as part of this very inspiring set of episodes, very often when these people were put on trial for abetting the escape of a slave and for interfering with federal authorities, the juries acquitted them. The juries were sympathetic to them, because by the 1850s there had been a building up of the abolitionist movement. A noble period of American history, forgotten moments, lost moments, but those moments should be remembered because they
questions of means and ends—questions such as violence, revolution, and alternative social systems—that we can understand what it means to say there is “a moral issue” in Vietnam. To start with, we ought to recognize the escalation of evil means during this century—a process in which few of us can claim innocence. What Hitler did was to extend the already approved doctrine of indiscriminate mass murder (ten million dead on the battlefields of World War I) to its logical end, and thus stretch
that they may be condemned for speaking out on social issues, but their talents are powerful enough to overcome that. People don’t stop going to their concerts. People didn’t stop going to hear the Dixie Chicks. And people didn’t stop reading Michael Moore’s books; in fact, they sold even more after that event. And people aren’t going to stop seeing Jessica Lange’s movies. I think all these opportunities should be seized. A friend of mine who was in Spain wrote to me. He pointed out that in the
I intend to fight that society which lied to and smothered me for so long, and continues to do so to vast numbers of people. . . . My plans are unstructured in regards to anything but the immediate future. I believe in freedom, and must take the jump; I must take the chance of action. The nation has suddenly become aware that the initiative today is in the hands of these 150 young people who have moved into the Deep South to transform it. Everyone waits on their next action: the local police,
Russian. The Japanese, the survivors, were sitting on the floor. We were expected to get up and say something to them as visitors from other countries. The Russian woman spoke about what the Russians had suffered in the war and how she could commiserate with the Japanese. As I planned to get up and speak, I thought, I don’t know what I can say. But I have to be honest. I have to say I was a bombardier, even though I didn’t bomb Japan. I bombed people, innocent people, civilians, just as in