Archive for January, 2010

Howard Zinn is no more.

29 January 2010
Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam, is no more. He died in Santa Monica, Calif., where he was travelling on 27 January this month. I was enthralled by his book, “People’s History of the United States – from 1492 to Present”, that was first published in 1980 but entered my consciousness as late as 2 years back. He calls it ‘People’s History…’ because that is what it is. It is seen & written from the perspective of ordinary people who lived, struggled for betterment of their conditions, claimed and reclaimed their rights, fought against injustices, died, but in that process shaped the story of their lives – their history. Reclaiming History for these real heroes, the common people, is what Zinn achieved so remarkably well that he has left an indelible mark in the collective consciousness of those who read it. This endearing individual wrote a autobiography called “You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train “. In it he says, “From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble”. His language is simple, direct and powerful. This is my tribute to a great intellect, but above all to a greater human being.
Here is a small excerpt about American Empire based on People’s History.
Harry Kreisler of University of California at Berkeley interviews him here for a series, “Conversations with History”.