The Indispensable Zinn: The Essential Writings of the "People's Historian"
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When the historian Howard Zinn died in early 2010, millions mourned the loss of one of our foremost intellectual and political guides: a historian, activist, and truth-teller who, in the words of the New York Times’s Bob Herbert, “peel[ed] back the rosy veneer of much of American history.”
Designed to highlight Zinn’s most important writings, The Indispensable Zinn includes excerpts from Zinn’s bestselling A People’s History of the United States; his memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train; his inspiring writings on the civil rights movement; and the full text of his celebrated play Marx in Soho. Noted historian and activist Timothy Patrick McCarthy provides essential historical and biographical context for each selection.
With an introduction from Zinn’s former Spellman College student and longtime friend Alice Walker and an afterword by Zinn’s friend and colleague Noam Chomsky, The Indispensable Zinn is both a fitting tribute to the legacy of a man whose “work changed the way millions of people saw the past” (Noam Chomsky) and a powerful and accessible introduction for anyone discovering Zinn for the first time.
fascinated me was that here we were in the 1960s, the New Left had distanced itself from traditional Communist Party doctrine and, without calling itself anarchist, had many of the sensibilities of the anarchist in being anti-state, anti-dogmatism and wanting to make revolutionary changes in the culture simultaneously with changes in the politics and economics. So Emma Goldman fitted, in my view, a new left conception of the universe. I found that my students, far from seeing her as an
associated at the turn of the century. DB: What informed and influenced your play writing? Did you have any models, were you interested in Bertolt Brecht’s work, for example? I was interested in Brecht’s work. There were a number of influences in my life that led me toward play writing. First there were people in my own family who had been involved in the theater. My wife was an actress for a while in Atlanta and here in Cambridge. My daughter was in the Atlanta production of the Diary of Anne
by it. But it’s a possibility. Fox TV seems to be interested in turning A People’s History into a ten-hour dramatized miniseries. I’ve been out to Los Angeles twice for meetings with Fox executives and joining me in this enterprise have been Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The three of us, along with Chris Moore, who was one of the producers of Good Will Hunting, are slated to be executive producers of this miniseries. We’re in the early stages, and I can’t say definitely that it will happen. But
with complete calm that his institute decided not too long ago that they had been completely wrong about the premise which underlay much of American policy in the postwar period—the premise that Russia hoped to take over Western Europe by force. Yet now, with not a tremor of doubt, the whole kit and caboodle of the invading-hordes theory is transferred to China. Paranoia starts from a base of facts, but then leaps wildly to an absurd conclusion. It is a fact that China is totalitarian in its
Howard’s one-man Marx in Soho imagines Karl Marx’s return to earth in an attempt to clear his name from more than a century of misrepresentation. Indeed, the play’s protagonist describes his return—full irony intended—as a “second coming.” At the opening of the play, Marx appears and assures his audience that “those idiots who said: ‘Marx is dead’” are, well, dead wrong. We learn that the nineteenth century revolutionary has negotiated a temporary exception to the ban on travel in the afterlife,