Sunday, August 3, 2008
Howard Zinn, Truth-teller
"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth."
---H. L. Mencken
Howard Zinn, one of the historians of the "New Left" school--that's the category of historian into which we lumped him back in the days I was a Ph.D. student--has had a tremendous effect on me. I have come to regard him as one of the foremost truth-tellers among American historians, an intellectual and activist who inspires. Stumbling across the lead-in video a few days ago reminded me of how much I respect and admire this man. His best known work, A People's History of the United States, should be assigned to every survey course in American history taught in this country. Naturally, since it is an extended (and quite readable) version of the history of the American empire depicted in the video, it is not. However, you could do worse than spending some time simply reading Zinn randomly. Now in his '80s, he maintains an active speaking and writing life still telling the truth. Long may he thrive.