It was just a little over a month ago that I encouraged you to watch The People Speak, a series of performances based on historical documents that had been collected by Howard Zinn in Voices of a People’s History of the United States. As I was finishing up work today, I was saddened to hear that Zinn died of a heart attack earlier; I had been inspired by many of his books, but most especially his memoir You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train because, when I read it in my late 20s, it was a testament of living true to one’s values that told me exactly what I needed to hear at the time I read it.
Zinn’s version of American history is not the polite version most of us were taught growing up; on the other hand, because he was relentless in championing alternative perspectives, that version has become more commonly known. If you haven’t read A People’s History of the United States yet, I highly recommend it—if you don’t wind up agreeing with Zinn, he should at the very least drive you to question your assumptions.
27 January 2010 | obituaries |