HISTORY MATTERS by Howard Zinn

HISTORY MATTERS

Conversations on History and Politics

KIRKUS REVIEW

Historian Zinn (History, Emeritus/Boston Univ.) and radio anchor Barsamian have opinionated discussions of America's history, politics and foreign policy in eight interviews from 2002 through 2005.

Zinn describes America as a nation paralyzed by fear and deluded by spin on the brink of an unnecessary Iraq War—suppositions that were derided at the time but are now widely supported. He assesses the ideology and tactics of the civil-rights movement to advise today's progressives on how to merge non-violence and direct action for social change. In these interviews, Zinn sounds more impressed with everyday American heroes than famous politicians, yet he is conversant on both topics. His views cannot be easily defined by partisan politics. There are plenty of rebukes to go around, including criticism of political, corporate and media elites across the political spectrum. Zinn backs up his ideas with facts and anecdotes, so the transcripts are intellectually provocative, even when readers do not agree with the conclusions. As an interviewer, Barsamian does not exercise the same discipline. Some of his questions are sloppy. He asks if The Godfather is a good metaphor for how U.S. foreign policy operates on a mafia code, but Zinn demurs. Another question covers New Mexico's ties to atomic-bomb testing while describing past violence toward Native Americans as “perhaps even the first 9/11”; Zinn has to take time to carefully untangle the confusion. Barsamian is also supportive to a fault—there are few challenges to Zinn's ideas, even for the sake of sharpening the arguments at hand.

As a set of transcripts, this is quite readable, but those new to Zinn would be better off with A People’s History of the United States.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-06-084425-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2006




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