…from the Boston Globe‘s obit on Howard Zinn: “On his last day at BU, Dr. Zinn ended class 30 minutes early so he could join a picket line and urged the 500 students attending his lecture to come along.”
If you ask me, this sums up the man about as well as anything could. I don’t doubt that he’s left quite a footprint on the American conscience, but the historian gig was somewhat incidental. It was the activism that informed his history, not the other way around.
Here’s a little exercise for those who disagree with me. Zinn wrote some twenty books in addition to A People’s History. Name one.
When I was in grad school at UT, Zinn came to deliver a speech on “The Uses of History.” What we got instead was a jeremiad against the Iraq War with a brief, passing, and largely irrelevant reference to the Continental Army.
Nobody seemed to mind the misleading advertising except for me. That’s what I deserved for assuming that one of America’s most prominent historians might actually say something of substance about history.