THE POLITICS OF HISTORY by Howard Zinn

THE POLITICS OF HISTORY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of historical articles and theoretical essays by the author of SNCC: The New Abolitionists, (1964). Zinn holds that historians must write as participant-observers in contemporary social struggles, not "passive reporters" committed to a callous and impossible neutrality. A view familiar by now, but Zinn offers a fine example here in his firsthand report of police-FBI violence in Albany, Georgia. The theme of official violence is pursued in papers on the napalming of Royan, France in 1945 and the 1912 massacre of unarmed Ludlow strikers by the Colorado militia. In tackling FDR as experimenter and LaGuardia as crusader, Zinn uses homey praise; he does better in polemics, as when he mops up Lewis Feuer's parricide theory of student revolt. A final group of essays discusses vague abstractions-humanitarianism, economic security, freedom--without the practical content required by Zinn's own approach. The pointless name-dropping and recrudescence of trivia exhibited by some of the articles may represent tacit accommodation to academic pressures. . . but the book also embodies a reassertion of intellectual integrity and social purpose which motivate the forceful, compassionate sketches of Ludlow, Royan and Albany. If less psychologically and historiographically sensitive than Duberman's The Uncompleted Past, (1969) and less assured than Chomsky's The New Mandarins, (1969), it's a stimulating contribution by a young professor with considerable drawing power for the same audience.
Pub Date: May 1st, 1970
ISBN: 0252061225
Page count: 412pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1970




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