THE INDISPENSABLE ZINN
The Essential Writings of the “People’s Historian”
Edited by Timothy Patrick McCarthy
The New Press (May 2012)
Paper • ISBN-13: 9781595586223 • US $19.95 • 416 pgs.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
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 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 Spelman 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.
“A fine selection that shows the enduring relevance of Zinn’s wisdom, and even more important for our time, of his radical democratic commitments.”
Frances Fox Piven
“The Indispensable Zinn captures Zinn’s eloquence and perception well; his writings remain remarkably relevant to today’s social and cultural debates. Tim McCarthy’s wonderful introduction provides a spirited guide to one of this country’s most invaluable public intellectuals.”
Martin Duberman, author of Stonewall
“Just as there will be only one Muhammad Ali, there will always be only one Howard Zinn. But both are in fact ‘The Greatest.’”
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.
Anthony Arnove produced the Academy Award–nominated documentary Dirty Wars and wrote, directed, and produced The People Speak with Howard Zinn. He is the editor of several books, including Voices of a People’s History of the United States, which Arnove co-edited with Zinn, The Essential Chomsky, and Iraq Under Siege, and is the author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal. He is on the editorial boards of Haymarket Books and the International Socialist Review, and is the founder of Roam Agency.
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)
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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