Books: Non-Fiction

The Historic Unfulfilled Promise

Time Periods: 20th Century, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000, 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

Howard Zinn’s historical clarity, unflappable optimism, and unshakable questions reverberate throughout The Historic Unfulfilled Promise, a collection of essays by Zinn from The Progressive. He addresses questions such as: “Have our political leaders gone mad?” “What kind of country do we want to live in?” “What is national security?” “Do we have a right to occupy a country when the people of that country obviously do not want us there?” “Is not war itself terrorism?” “Should we not begin to consider all children, everywhere, as our own?” “Has the will of the people been followed?”

The Historic Unfulfilled Promise is a genuine work of conscience, rich in ideas, charged with energy; an invaluable introduction for the uninitiated and a must-have for Zinn’s fans. [Publisher’s description.]

Foreword by Mathew Rothschild. | ISBN:  9780872865556 | Published by City Lights Publishers.

 

Reviews

“This posthumous collection of Zinn’s passionate, iconoclastic, and wryly humorous articles from the Progressive magazine spans 30 years—from 1980 to 2010—though most are of 21st-century vintage. Zinn argues repeatedly for an alternative to war, totalitarianism, and redistribution of resources and energy away from the military and ‘toward ideals of egalitarianism, community, and self-determination… which have been the historic, unfulfilled promise of the word democracy.’ Zinn persists with his optimism and sometimes proves astounding in his almost clairvoyant analysis, as the essays progress from Boston University student and faculty protests against the Vietnam War and the academic “Establishment” through the two Iraq wars, to Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan. In addition, Zinn writes of his own youth and radicalization, and his admiration for artists who “wage the battle of justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse,” including a warm and perceptive memorial to Kurt Vonnegut, with whom he became friends late in life, and with whom he shared a conversion to pacifism after serving in WWII. His call to action will strike a chord with a younger generation of occupiers.”—Starred review from Publisher’s Weekly

“Howard Zinn’s remarkable life and work are summarized best in his own words. His primary concern, he explained, was ‘the countless small actions of unknown people’ that lie at the roots of ‘those great moments’ that enter the historical record—a record that will be profoundly misleading, and seriously disempowering, if it is torn from these roots as it passes through the filters of doctrine and dogma. His life was always closely intertwined with his writings and innumerable talks and interviews. It was devoted, selflessly, to empowerment of the unknown people who brought about great moments.”—Noam Chomsky