Articles by Howard Zinn

The Pentagon Papers Disclosure and Indictments

December 30 is the anniversary of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo being indicted in 1971 for releasing the Pentagon Papers. The papers were part of a 7,000-page, top secret history of the U.S. political and military involvement in the Vietnam War from 1945-71. In other words, their “crime” was to make the American public aware of the history of the war. Excerpted from chapter 12 of You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Howard Zinn recounts the lead-up to Ellsberg and Russo's indictment.

Indian Resistance and Thanksgiving Declarations

Akwesasne Notes Poster by Bruce Carter | HowardZinn.org The following is an excerpt from "Surprises," Chapter 19 of A People’s History of the United States to highlight Native American resistance during the 1960s and 70s. As Howard Zinn states, “Never in American history had more movements for change been concentrated in so short a span of years.” This is followed by additional resources on Native American history and resistance.

Columbus and the Lens of History

For Indigenous Peoples' Day, we feature an excerpt from Chapter One of A People’s History of the United States. Howard Zinn describes why he tells the story of Columbus’s arrival “from the viewpoint of the Arawaks” and "the inevitable taking of sides which comes from selection and emphasis in history."

A Marvelous Victory

Book cover: A Power Goverments Cannot Suppress • City Lights By Howard Zinn • ZCommunications • February 1, 2010
In this world of war and injustice, how does a person manage to stay socially engaged, committed to the struggle, and remain healthy without burning out or becoming resigned or cynical? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world.

War and Peace Prizes

President Obama with Nobel Prize • Photo by Pete Souza • WikiCommons By Howard Zinn • The Guardian • October 10, 2009
I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel peace prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize. Until I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel peace prizes. The Nobel committee is famous for its superficial estimates, won over by rhetoric and by empty gestures, and ignoring blatant violations of world peace.

Untold Truths About the American Revolution

Revolutionary War Battle • Artist unknown • Georgia Studies By Howard Zinn • The Progressive • July 20, 2009
There are things that happen in the world that are bad, and you want to do something about them. You have a just cause. But our culture is so war prone that we immediately jump from, “This is a good cause” to “This deserves a war.” You need to be very, very comfortable in making that jump.

Changing Obama’s Mindset

Barack Obama • Photo by Chuck Kennedy • WikiCommons By Howard Zinn • The Progressive • May 13, 2009
We are citizens, and Obama is a politician. You might not like that word. But the fact is he’s a politician. He’s other things, too—he’s a very sensitive and intelligent and thoughtful and promising person. But he’s a politician. If you’re a citizen, you have to know the difference between them and you—the difference between what they have to do and what you have to do. And there are things they don’t have to do, if you make it clear to them they don’t have to do it.

Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti • Photographer unknown • WikiCommons By Howard Zinn • ZCommunications • March 11, 2009
On that 50th year after the execution, the New York Times reported that: "Plans by Mayor Beame to proclaim next Tuesday "Sacco and Vanzetti Day’ have been canceled in an effort to avoid controversy, a City Hall spokesman said yesterday." There must be good reason why a case 50-years-old, now over 75-years-old, arouses such emotion. I suggest that it is because to talk about Sacco and Vanzetti inevitably brings up matters that trouble us today: our system of justice, the relationship between war fever and civil liberties, and most troubling of all, the ideas of anarchism: the obliteration of national boundaries and therefore of war, the elimination of poverty, and the creation of a full democracy.

Remembering Murray Levin

By Howard Zinn • The Monthly Review • February 2009
I suspect that many on the U.S. left do not know the name of Murray Levin—political scientist, writer, teacher—who died at the age of seventy-two in late 1999. It would be hard to characterize his politics in simple terms; “socialist,” “radical,” “progressive?” In the thirty-five years I knew him, including twenty-four years as his close friend and colleague at Boston University, there was never any occasion to describe him in any of those ways. One thing, however, can be stated with confidence: Murray Levin made an important

Howard Zinn Defends Studs Terkel from Red-Baiting in the Times

Studs Terkel • Photographer unknown • WikiCommons By Howard Zinn • The Progressive • November 7, 2008
Reading Edward Rothstein’s sour commentary on Studs Terkel in the New York Times on November 2, I was surprised that Rothstein, presumably a sophisticated thinker, seems to believe one can separate one’s political views from a historical narrative, even from oral history. “It is, in fact, impossible to separate Mr. Terkel’s political vision from the contours of his oral history,” he wrote.