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.”