Howard Zinn

From ArticleWorld

Howard Zinn is a leading U.S. historian and political scientist. Zinn is an unconventional pundit for American liberalism and is the author of a great number of books, plays, and essays. His ideology combines the teachings of Karl Marx and aspects of socialism and social democracy.


During World War II, Zinn flew with the 490th Bomb Group. He flew several bombing missions to Europe, including the napalm bombing of Royan, France in April 1945. He later criticized these actions in his books The Politics of History and The Zinn Reader.

“Only after the war did I begin to question the purity of the moral crusade,” he wrote. “Dropping bombs from five miles high. I had seen no human being, heard no screams, seen no children dismember. But now I had to think about Hiroshima and Nagaski, and the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden, the deaths of 600,000 civilians in Japan, and a similar number in Germany. I came to a conclusion about the psychology of myself and other warriors: Once we decided, at the start, that our side was the good side and the other side was evil, once we had made that simple and simplistic calculation, we did not have to think anymore. Then we could commit unspeakable crimes and it was all right.”

Zinn’s experiences in World War II shaped his ethics and turned him into a man of “active resistance,” leading the antiwar movement of the Vietnam era.

Zinn earned his B.A. in 1951 from New York University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in history with a minor in political science from Columbia University in 1952 and 1958, respectively.

Starting in 1956, Zinn became chairman of the department of history and social sciences at Spelman College in Atlanta. He joined the Civil Rights movement and advised the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Zinn was fired in 1963 after supporting students whose active challenge of resulted in their arrests, much against the traditional social codes of Spelman.

Zinn then taught history and civil liberties at Boston College from 1964 to 1988.

Presently, Zinn is the Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Boston University and the recipient of the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs Award, the 1998 Lannan Literary Award, and the 1999 Upton Sinclair Award.

Zinn is also renowned for his book A People’s History of the United States, first published in 1980. A People’s History retells U.S. History through the eyes of racial and political minorities. In 2004, a companion book Voices of A People’s History of the United States was released by Zinn and Anthony Arnove.