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Howard Zinn: A Radical American Vision


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of the most popular alternative histories of America is A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Originally published in 1980, this "new left textbook," which looks at American history "from below" - i.e., from the perspective of the disenfranchised and marginalized - has sold one million copies. This magnum opus is just one of the fifteen books that Howard Zinn has contributed over more than five decades, and at age 80 he continues to write and remains very actively engaged as a historian, activist, and enthusiastic proponent of radical social reform. For those who value the diversity of American voices and appreciate the importance of radically different viewpoints outside the mainstream, Howard Zinn is a national treasure.

This first-ever biography of Zinn traces in broad strokes the story of his life, placing special emphasis on his involvement in both the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam War protests. Besides discussing the major shaping events of his life, biographer and historian Davis Joyce summarizes each of Zinn's books within the context of his life, analyzes the evolution of Zinn's ideas, and concludes with a preliminary assessment of his life's work.

Joyce argues that Zinn's views are radical because they seek to bring about fundamental change in the political, social, and economic order. No armchair historian, Zinn has spent his whole life working for change, and he firmly believes that the American system needs to change radically to realize its own ideals. In a crucial passage from A People's History, Zinn boldly declares his agenda:

"I prefer to try to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokees, ... of the rise of industrialism as seen by the young women in the Lowell textile mills...."

Though some would label Zinn's positions anti-American, Joyce contends that Zinn's approach is rooted in the very ideals upon which the United States was founded, especially as embodied in the Declaration of Independence. His life has been motivated by the vision of what America could be, as opposed to what it actually is, and has been dedicated to the struggle to make that vision a reality. Joyce also considers how Zinn fits into the new left, radical school of historical writing of the 1960s and beyond.

For anyone who has ever been moved by Howard Zinn's unique vision of a better, more inclusive, and egalitarian American future, this biography will be an indispensable resource.

Book News Annotation:

Concentrating primarily on the radical historian's writing, Joyce (emeritus, history, East Central U., Oklahoma) presents a sympathetic portrait of Howard Zinn's intellectual biography, plainly agreeing with the activist and intellectual on the need for historians to concentrate on the experiences of the outsiders ("the minorities, the poor, the working people, the women, the dissenters and protesters, the many"). Joyce also examines critical responses to Zinn's work, both the friendly and the unfriendly.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


This first-ever biography of Zinn traces in broad strokes the story of his life, placing special emphasis on his involvement in both the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam War protests.

About the Author

Davis D. Joyce, Ph. D. (Spavinaw, OK) has taught at the University of Tulsa, Keele University (England), and the University of Debrecen (Hungary). He is Professor Emeritus of History at East Central University (Ada, Oklahoma), and teaches part-time at Rogers State University (Claremore, Oklahoma). Some of his earlier books are Edward Channing and the Great Work, The Writing of American History (with Michael Kraus) and "An Oklahoma I Had Never Seen Before": Alternative Views of Oklahoma History (editor).

Product Details

Chomsky, Noam
Prometheus Books
Foreword by:
Chomsky, Noam, Et
Chomsky, Noam
Chomsky, Noam, Et
Joyce, Davis D.
Amherst, N.Y.
United states
United States History.
United States Historiography.
United States - 20th Century
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » General

Howard Zinn: A Radical American Vision New Hardcover
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Product details 275 pages Prometheus Books - English 9781591021315 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This first-ever biography of Zinn traces in broad strokes the story of his life, placing special emphasis on his involvement in both the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam War protests.
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