January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn dies

Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87

By Mark Feeney and Bryan MarquardHoward Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as "A People's History of the United States," inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.

His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.

"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."

Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn's writings "simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation. He opened up approaches to history that were novel and highly significant. Both by his actions, and his writings for 50 years, he played a powerful role in helping and in many ways inspiring the Civil rights movement and the anti-war movement."

For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. "A People’s History of the United States" (1980), his best-known book, had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers--many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out--but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and union organizers of the 1930s.
Comment:  I think Zinn's account of Columbus's crimes against Indians is still the definitive one.

For more on the subject, see The People Speak on the History Channel and Morison Buried Columbus's Crimes.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

Chomsky's not the best sort of character reference. He's one of the few "intellectuals" to come out in favor of Pol Pot's huge massacres in the 1970s, and he is quick to favor totalitarianism and authoritarianism.