Books: Non-Fiction

Howard Zinn on War

Book — Non-fiction. By Howard Zinn. Introduction by Marilyn B. Young. 2011. 272 pages.
Essays spanning 1962 to 2006 that examine specific wars, wartime incidents, and the force of non-violence to move beyond war, if we are to survive.

Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001-
Themes: Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

Howard Zinn on WarHow can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism? —Howard Zinn

Historically, the most terrible things — war, genocide, and slavery — have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience. —Howard Zinn

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. —Howard Zinn

This second edition of Howard Zinn on War is a collection of 26 short writings chosen by the author to represent his thinking on a subject that concerned and fascinated him throughout his career. He reflects on the wars against Iraq, the war in Kosovo, the Vietnam War, World War II, and on the meaning of war generally in a world of nations that can’t seem to stop destroying each other. These readings appeared first in magazines and newspapers including the Progressive and the Boston Globe, as well as in Zinn’s books, Failure to Quit, Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, The Politics of History, and Declarations of Independence.

Here we see Zinn’s perspective as a World War II veteran and peace activist who lived through the most devastating wars of the twentieth century and questioned every one of them with his combination of integrity and historical acumen. In his essay, “Just and Unjust War,” Zinn challenges us to fight for justice “with struggle, but without war.” He writes in “After the War” (2006) that while governments bring us into war, “their power is dependent on the obedience of the citizenry. When that is withdrawn, governments are helpless.”

In Howard Zinn on War, his message is clear: “The abolition of war has become not only desirable but absolutely necessary if the planet is to be saved. It is an idea whose time has come.” [Publisher’s description.]

ISBN: 9781609801335 | Seven Stories


What War Looks Like (2002): As a veteran of World War II and someone who has spent a great portion of his life writing about and against war, I sometimes wonder if people and governments would be so eager to fight if they were able to see what physical combat and its consequences truly look like. Too often the reality is concealed by faceless numbers. To date over 4,000 American troops and over 1 million Iraqis have been killed in Iraq since the United States declared war in October 2003. This article originally appeared in The Progressive.


“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.” —Noam Chomsky

“Howard had a genius for the shape of public morality and for articulating the great alternative vision of peace as more than a dream.” —James Carroll, columnist for the Boston Globe