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Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  63 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Howard Zinn was perhaps the best-known and most widely celebrated popular interpreter of American history in the twentieth century, renowned as a bestselling author, a political activist, a lecturer, and one of America’s most recognizable and admired progressive voices.

His rich, complicated, and fascinating life placed Zinn at the heart of the signal events of modern Ameri
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by The New Press (first published 2012)
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Russell Bittner
Sep 08, 2016 Russell Bittner rated it it was amazing
I plucked this book immediately off the shelf at my local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library when I saw the name ‘Howard Zinn’ on the cover. I’m glad I did. The name of Howard Zinn is one known exceedingly well—and respected every bit as much—by anyone who’s been fortunate enough to read his magnum opus, A People’s History of the United States.

It may have been a happy coincidence that the work I’d just previously read and reviewed was Franz Kafka’s The Castle. This, because Martin Duberman’
Mar 24, 2013 Kristi rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-bio
For such a public figure, Zinn went to great lengths to protect his private life including destroying personal correspondence and documents. The author delves sensitively into family history and offers a rich, detailed presentation of Zinn's involvement in the civil rights movement, the impact he's had on contemporary activism, and his long career as a scholar and academic.
Jul 08, 2013 Barbara rated it it was amazing
I am giving this book 5 stars although I am not sure I will reread it (my usual criteria). However, it was a thoroughly engaging read by a gifted historian. Duberman was somewhat limited in writing this biography as Zinn was careful to conceal personal details of his life and even destroyed records of such. Zinn's deep love for humanity shines through the pages. The book is being heavy on the details of the events of the day at each stage of Zinn's life, but this was a plus. Duberman captures ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it
I have not read "The People's History" nor followed Howard Zinn's career, but have been curious about him. Biographer Martin Duberman covers Zinn's political activity, his writing and his professorial career. He is gives perspective on his writings, their impact and their limitations.

As a WWII pilot Zinn dropped bombs that killed civilians and did nothing for the anti-fascist cause. Later as a civil rights activist he saw people murdered by the federal government's inaction when it should have b
Some favorites:
p7 "Thomas Jefferson High School wasn't much of an experience for me educationally."
p9 After participating in a nonviolent protest in 1939 regarding the gap between poverty and wealth in the US: "I was no longer a liberal, a believer in the self-correcting character of American democracy. I was a radical, believing that something fundamental was wrong in this country . . . something rotten at the root."
p22 It dawned on him that perhaps professional historical writing wasn't as "ob
Charles Stephen
Aug 07, 2013 Charles Stephen rated it liked it
Duberman, iconic gay historian, writes a biography of Howard Zinn, iconic radical historian and educator. This book should be five stars, but "it is what it is," as they say. Personally, I was fascinated by Zinn's early career in Atlanta at Spelman College in the 1960s. Zinn's activism in Georgia made an interesting comparison to Albert Foley's at Spring Hill College in Mobile, where Foley was arguably the most visible white proponent of desegregation and chair of the Alabama Advisory Committee ...more
May 22, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
This book was a well-written historical survey of Howard Zinn's life. Because Zinn was very guarded about his personal life, even going as far as destroying documents relating to personal issues before his death, the book is drier and somewhat duller than your average biography. But it seems Duberman does the best he can with limited material, and his perspective is not overly fawning, as he points out some holes in Zinn's philosophy and concerns. So I thought it was an interesting read ...more
Apr 01, 2014 Joan rated it liked it
I had read Zinn's book, A People's History, so I wanted to find out a bit more about him. I do appreciate this book, there is lots of information in it. However, I did not alike the author editorializing, commenting on the issues. This is more than a biography. It is also the author's opinions on the issues involved. In my mind, that has no place in a true biography, hence, only three stars.
Nov 27, 2013 Ralph rated it really liked it
Since Zinn had all his private papers destroyed, the book seems thin on substance, but it's worth a read to learn more about one of our best historians and a leading figure in the radical movement of the Sixties and beyond.
Douglas rated it liked it
Jan 22, 2013
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Nov 02, 2012
Dec 16, 2012 Karrie rated it liked it
Nice overview of Howard's Life.
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Martin Bauml Duberman is a scholar and playwright. He graduated from Yale in 1952 and earned a Ph.D. in American history from Harvard in 1957. Duberman left his tenured position at Princeton University in 1971 to become Distinguished Professor of History at Lehman College in New York City.
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