THE PEOPLE SPEAK
American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known
Edited by Howard Zinn
HarperCollins / Perennial (March 2004)
Paper • ISBN-13: 9780060578268 • US $9.99 • 96 pgs.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
To celebrate the millionth copy sold of Howard Zinn’s great People’s History of the United States, Zinn drew on the words of Americans—some famous, some little known—across the range of American history. These words were read by a remarkable cast at an event held at the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City that included James Earl Jones, Alice Walker, Jeff Zinn, Kurt Vonnegut, Alfre Woodard, Marisa Tomei, Danny Glover, Myla Pitt, Harris Yulin, and Andre Gregory.
From that celebration, this book was born. Collected here under one cover is a brief history of America told through dramatic readings applauding the enduring spirit of dissent.
Here in their own words, and interwoven with commentary by Zinn, are Columbus on the Arawaks; Plough Jogger, an anonymous farmer and participant in Shays’ Rebellion; Harriet Hanson, a Lowell mill worker; abolitionist Frederick Douglass; Mark Twain; Mother Jones; Emma Goldman; Helen Keller; Eugene V. Debs; Langston Hughes; Genora Johnson Dollinger on a sit-down strike at General Motors in Flint, Michigan; an interrogation from a 1953 HUAC hearing; Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper and member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Malcolm X; and James Lawrence Harrington, a Gulf War resister, among others
PRAISE FOR A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES:
“Professor Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history, and his text is studded with telling quotations from labor leaders, war resisters, and fugitive slaves. There are vivid descriptions of events that are usually ignored … A reversal of perspectives, a reshuffling of heroes and villains.”
Eric Foner, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those who have been exploited politically and economically, and whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Howard Zinn (1922–2010) was a historian, playwright, and activist. He wrote the classic A People’s History of the United States, “a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those … whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories” (Library Journal). The book, which has sold more than 2.6 million copies and been translated into 23 foreign editions, has become a cultural touchstone, encouraging interest in “people’s histories” in universities and activist meetings alike. In 2009, History aired The People Speak, an acclaimed documentary co-directed by Zinn, based on A People’s History and a companion volume, Voices of a People’s History of the United States. As Noam Chomsky wrote, “Howard Zinn’s work literally changed the conscience of a generation.”
Zinn grew up in a working-class, immigrant household in Brooklyn. At eighteen, he became a shipyard worker and flew bomber missions over Europe during World War II, experiences which helped to shape his opposition to war and his interest in the lives of working people. After attending college under the GI Bill and earning a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, he taught at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college, where he became active in the civil rights movement. After being fired by Spelman for his support for student protesters, Zinn became a professor of Political Science at Boston University, where he taught until his retirement in 1988. He wrote more than forty books.
OTHER TITLES BY THIS AUTHOR:
A People’s History of the United States: Abridged Teaching Edition (with Kathy Emery and Ellen Reeves)
A People’s History of the United States: The Wall Charts (with George Kirschner)
Howard Zinn On Democratic Education (with Donaldo Macedo)
Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches, 1963–2009 (ed. Anthony Arnove)
Indispensable Zinn: The Essential Writings of the “People’s Historian” (ed. Timothy Patrick McCarthy)
Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics (with David Barsamian)
Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor’s Last Century (with Dana Frank and Robin D. G. Kelley)
Uncommon Sense: From the Writings of Howard Zinn (eds. Dean Birkenkamp and Wanda Rhudy)
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