In the News

Howard Zinn, My Courageous Friend

Published on January 30, 2010 in
by William Holtzman
What can I say about my friend Howard Zinn? I met Howard at Boston University, where I attended his classes in the mid-1970s. To this day, I can quote chapter and verse from his lectures. The man could be spellbinding in a gentle, whimsical way. One lecture stands out because it says so much about Howard. It was the last lecture of the semester, and he said, "Enough of me; let's turn it over to you. Let's talk about whatever you want to talk about." His lecture attracted 500-plus students, so I was quick to hold up my hand. I liked to challenge Howard, so I gave it my best shot: "Howard, we just finished an entire semester on American politics, but we've never talked about compromise, and compromise is fundamental to the American system. Could you talk about the fine art of compromise and tenure?" With his Buddha-like manner, he nodded and said: "So, you want to know what I compromised for tenure? Is that the question?" Essentially, that was the question.
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Howard Zinn, US historian and activist, dies aged 87

Published on January 28, 2010 in

Howard Zinn, US historian and activist, dies aged 87

The American historian, playwright and author of the bestseller A People's History of the United States, which presents a leftist view of US history, has died

By Alison Flood

American historian, playwright and social activist Howard Zinn died yesterday, aged 87.

The author of the million-plus bestseller A People's History of the United States, which gave a leftist view of American history, died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California, his daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn told the Associated Press today.

Zinn wrote more than 20 books and his plays have been produced around the world, but it is for A People's History, first published in 1980 with a print run of just 5,000 copies, which the historian is best known. Told from the perspective of America's women, Native Americans and workers, the book provides a revisionist view of American history from the arrival of Christopher Columbus – who Zinn charges with genocide – to president Bill Clinton's first term.

"My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality," wrote the author in the bestselling book. "But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all) – that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth."

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Howard Zinn on A People’s History of the United States

Published on January 19, 2010 in

Harper Perennial and The Zinn Education Project are pleased to present a conversation with Howard Zinn on A People's History of the United States. The Zinn Education Project has solicited questions from teachers through their website, Bill Bigelow, a teacher and writer, will present these questions to Professor Zinn for discussion. During the last twenty minutes of the show, the chat room and phone lines will be open for live participation in the discussion and for listeners to present their own questions to Professor Zinn.

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Teaching US History with Howard Zinn

Published on December 29, 2009 in
By Richard Byrne A People's History of the United States is frequently used by U.S. History teachers in my school and in schools around the country because Zinn tells the history of the United States in a story that it is often different from that told in textbooks. A People's History of the United States gives students an alternative perspective on history. The Zinn Education Project is a website designed to help teachers use A People's History of the United States in their classrooms. The Zinn Education Project provides complete lesson plans for use in elementary school, middle school, and high school settings. In some cases the lesson plans include document excerpts and references to A People's History of the United States. You can search for lesson plans by time period, theme, or by student reading levels.
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The People Spoke and They Need to Speak Again

Published on December 14, 2009 in

By Alan Singer

As a social studies teacher, a political activist, and a historian, I am a big fan of Howard Zinn, and I very much enjoyed watching The People Speak on the History Channel Sunday night. Well-known and not so well-known actors read speeches, letters, and other primary source documents from the history of the United States. There were also photo montages and songs. It was not great theater or television, but it was a wonderful teaching tool. I have been using many of these documents in my social studies classes for the past four decades. They show aspects of United States history that are either ignored or minimized in most traditional textbooks and curricula. In the near future I hope we see secondary school students across the country participate in similar readers. Our schools, and our country, very much need it.

Currently, I have pre-service teachers in my social studies methods classes use Voices of a People's History as a resource book when preparing lessons and units. I will now recommend that they have schools purchase copies of The People Speak and that they themselves sign up for the resources available from the Zinn Education Project ( I am pleased that an article I wrote about high school students tracing the history of slavery in New York City is included (Please note I did not get paid).

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A Not To Be Missed New Website: Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People’s History

Published on December 14, 2009 in

As their announcement states:

The new site features over 75 free, downloadable teaching activities for middle- and high- school students to bring a people’s history to the classroom. These are the best U.S. history-teaching articles from the Rethinking Schools archives. The site also lists hundreds of recommended books, films, and websites. The teaching activities and resources are organized by theme, time period, and grade level.

Though teachers would have to modify the materials to make them accessible to English Language Learners, the site is truly extraordinary. It’s development is timed with last night’s debut on the History Channel of The People Speak presentation. It was narrated by Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States,

I’m adding the new website to The Best Teacher Resource Sites For Social Justice Issues.

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