Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Biography of Howard Zinn

As long as we are talking about Howard Zinn, it is worth noting that Martin Duberman has recently published Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left (New Press, 2012).

John Tirman reviews the book at The Washington Post.  Here is a taste:

But this intelligent book reminds us of titantic moral struggles in American history and those who engaged in them. It’s striking that the Zinn-Chomsky generation lacks a successor in public discourse, that our national political debate has narrowed so much. The book also reminds us of when people would collectively act as citizens, sometimes militantly, to be heard and get results. It spurs us to think, as Zinn did, of utopian ideas — a Constitution that guarantees economic rights, for instance, or a society that could sustain itself without a central state, the core belief of anarchists and one intermittently asserted by Zinn — and how mentally liberating those ideas can be.

Mostly, Duberman’s biography captures what was so attractive about this radical historian. “What will most certainly come down to future generations,” Duberman concludes, “is Howard’s humanity, his exemplary concern for the plight of others, a concern free of condescension or self-importance. Howard always stayed in character — and that character remained centered on a capacious solidarity with the least fortunate.”

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