Oct 24 2012
First Major Zinn Biography Explores the Activist, the Professor, and the Man – Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left
It has been nearly three years since the death of the pre-eminent progressive historian Howard Zinn, a man who left behind a mighty legacy for the millions of Americans who were influenced by his greatest work: A People’s History of the United States. Now, the first major biography of the late Zinn has just hit bookstores. Acclaimed historian and biographer Martin Duberman has penned Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left, published by New Press. Duberman has been the first scholar to get access to Howard Zinn’s personal archives after his death in 2010.
In his biography of Zinn, Duberman contextualizes the late historian as a central figure in most of the major social and political movements in the United States during the 20th century. Duberman also attempts to paint a picture of Zinn’s personal life – a challenge given that much of the archival letters were destroyed by Zinn before his death.
Howard Zinn was born into poverty in a Polish-Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York on August 24th 1922, and went on to enlist in the US Air Force during World War II. After returning from war, he found himself as a professor at Spellman College in Atlanta, an experience that deeply shaped his politics on race. Eventually Zinn wrote A People’s History of the United States, and became a leading voice against the modern era of US wars starting with the Vietnam war, and continuing with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Howard Zinn died on January 27, 2010 in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 87.
GUEST: Martin Duberman, a Distinguished professor Emeritus of History at the CUNY Graduate School in New York. He has won awards like the Bancroft prize and been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.