THE HISTORIC UNFULFILLED PROMISE
City Lights Books (2012)
Paper • ISBN-13: 9780872865556 • US $16.95 • 256 pgs.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Howard Zinn’s views on social movements, freedom, history, democracy, and our own human potential are educational and transformative. In few places is his voice more clear and accessible than in the dozens of articles he penned for The Progressive magazine from 1980 to 2009, offered together here in book form for the first time.
Whether encouraging people to organize, critiquing the government, or speaking on behalf of working people who struggle to survive in an economy rigged to benefit the rich and powerful, Zinn’s historical clarity, unflappable optimism, and unshakable questions reverberate throughout The Historic Unfulfilled Promise: “Have our political leaders gone mad?” “What kind of country do we want to live in?” “Has the will of the people been followed?”
The Historic Unfulfilled Promise is a genuine work of conscience, rich in ideas, charged with energy; an invaluable introduction for the uninitiated and a must-have for Zinn’s fans.
“This posthumous collection of Zinn’s passionate, iconoclastic, and wryly humorous articles from the Progressive magazine spans 30 years… Zinn argues repeatedly for an alternative to war, totalitarianism, and redistribution of resources and energy away from the military and ‘toward ideals of egalitarianism, community, and self-determination… which have been the historic, unfulfilled promise of the word democracy.’ Zinn persists with his optimism and sometimes proves astounding in his almost clairvoyant analysis, as the essays progress from Boston University student and faculty protests against the Vietnam War and the academic “Establishment” through the two Iraq wars, to Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan. In addition, Zinn writes of his own youth and radicalization, and his admiration for artists who “wage the battle of justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse,” including a warm and perceptive memorial to Kurt Vonnegut, with whom he became friends late in life, and with whom he shared a conversion to pacifism after serving in WWII. His call to action will strike a chord with a younger generation of occupiers.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A sharp and insightful collection from one of the country’s most visible historians and critics.”
David Pitt, Booklist
“Howard Zinn was called a lot of different names: anarchist, socialist, and communist. He called himself a lot of different names, too: anarchist, socialist, and communist. No one ever seems to have called him Zen, but maybe it’s time to start… The Historic Unfulfilled Promise is a testament to Zinn’s Zen politics: his refusal to be silent, to acquiesce, or to sever his ties with the downtrodden.”
Jonah Raskin, MR Zine
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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