The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy
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The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,266 ratings  ·  33 reviews
No other radical historian has reached so many hearts and minds as Howard Zinn. It is rare that a historian of the Left has managed to retain as much credibility while refusing to let his academic mantle change his beautiful writing style from being anything but direct, forthright, and accessible. Whether his subject is war, race, politics, economic justice, or history its...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 746 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Seven Stories Press (first published January 1st 1997)
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The essay that stands out the most to me is the one on how there can be NO just wars. His argument is pretty great: take a war that was widely held to be just (WWII) and show the many ways in which it might not be. It follows, therefore, that if our best candidate for a just war comes up short, it is likely that others will not be just, either. Smart and ballsy.
Jul 03, 2010 Bryan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Wake up and smell the truth.: "A People's History of the United States" forever changed the way I viewed the world and the system I grew up in. Continuing that tradition, "The Zinn Reader..", wakes up a desire in one's soul to rise up and do something about the injustices and hypocrisies that have dominated our past and continued to swallow our present. Professor Zinn write clearly, honestly, and furiously about topics ranging from the distribution of wealth to the ideal uses of scholarship and...more
When I was in college, an acquaintance told me that Howard Zinn had a profound impact on him. I, with a minor interest in American history, made a mental note to check him out.

This man is more extreme than I had imagined. He is a self described radical, he sympathizes with anarchists, abominates the notion of a "good war," and thinks capitalism and the prevailing social structure desperately need to be radically altered. From what I understand he thinks wealth is disproportionately distributed b...more
It's hard to succinctly explain my feelings about all 700-odd pages of this collection. I came out of it with a great admiration for Howard Zinn as a man of principle who isn't afraid to act. He also isn't afraid to challenge ideals of patriotism or "justice" or law and order. Most of all, I enjoyed the first section on race, his observations from Spelman and from various Southern protest movements. I was most surprised by his overwhelming optimism. The world is unjust and violent and unequal, b...more
This book is essential if you want to be introduced to Zinn. Well, hell. It's just damn essential, even if you don't. You should. Read it is what I'm saying.
If there is a better way to trace the common values that inspire civil rights efforts, labor rights efforts and pacifist efforts I have yet to find it. Zinn, over the course of 40 years and prolific essays, links the struggle for human dignity across decades and accurately lays accountability at the feet of the inhabitors of the structures o...more
drublood Duro
I miss Howard Zinn so much. I wish he was around to write about history as it's unfolding right now. Readable, unapologetically subjective, and prosaic, Zinn reminds us that history is alive and tangible.

This book is a great survey of the breadth of Zinn's own history as historian journalist. From his childhood to his service to his early years of political activism, Zinn takes us on his journey, but focuses on the world around him as he journeys through it.

This is definitely going on the readin...more
The single most important book I've ever read.
I expected more of a how to than a regurgitation of Zinn's other works. The same works are anthologized over and over and sold under separate titles, this is to be expected. However Zinn seems to plagerize his own essays at times, using the same situation as a response to several provacative subjects. Sometimes it seems he uses the least appropriate stories. If this is the first and ONLY Zinn reader you read, then it will blow your face off. If not, you will fall asleep and probably not finish i...more
In school I learned U.S. History. When I read Howard Zinn I learn the history of the United States. Like his Peoples History of America the Zinn Reader was excellent. It is a compilation of 61 essays, articles, writings divided into six themes:Race, Class, War, Law, History, Means & Ends. I would give a 5 to about 1/3 of the book and a 4 to the other 2/3. Overall a 4.5. Recommend to all interested in learning about us.
Collection of essays and excerpts. Overall, it's pretty interesting, but the level of intellectual rigor is not exactly consistent. His argument against war, for example, is pretty thin and has never sat with me right. Whenever I think of it, all I see is Mr. Mackey saying, "War is bad because it's bad, m'kay?" That's essentially the level of argument we're dealing with here.
Sylvain Bérubé
J'ai entamé ce livre il y a quelques mois déjà, et je le reprends de temps en temps pour lire un ou deux articles, selon mon intérêt du moment. Son format permet ce genre de lecture étalée, et de le redécouvrir est à chaque fois un plaisir. Zinn y est très généreux de ses expériences de vie, de ses observations, de ses réflexions.
Come on 'round kiddies, let everyone's favorite radical grandpa tell you a story about how things really were...not the way you were taught in school. I adore Howard Zinn. He can relate incredibly complex subjects down to easily digestible stories so that even dipshits like me can comprehend what's going on.
Stephen CM
The book is broken down by sections like History, Race, Class, etc. The collected writings are mostly short and very accessible. This is an awesome intro to some of the radical themes present in American history. (Zinn is not the MOST RADICAL writer, but he's a very fair writer, as well as passionate.)
This is a great anthology of Zinn essays from the 1960s to present day. They can get a bit repetitive if you read the whole thing through but still interesting and informative. I like how Zinn gives a little intro to each essay to help put them in context.
'I can understand pessimism, but I don't believe in it. It's not simply a matter of faith, but of historical evidence. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give hope, because for hope we don't need certainty, only posssibility.'

David Melbie
Jul 15, 2013 David Melbie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs. . . especially those who think they "know' their history!
Recommended to David by: Big fan!
This is one of the best collections of Zinn's writings that he published in his lifetime and I highly recommend it. There are now more compilations coming out of more material, but this is the best place to start.
Apr 22, 2007 Tanuja rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
One of the very first books I read on civil disobedience. His assertion that you "can't be neutral on a moving train" quieted the doubtful voices in my head that said, "just keep quiet." Zinn is amazing.
Every bit as amazing as "A People's History". I was in the middle of this on 9/11 and reading it actually comforted me somehow. I can't put into words my respect and admiration for Howard Zinn.
so excited about this! i'm integrating zinn into this semester's composition II class, a unit in civil disobedience. looks like a good collection.
Jul 13, 2009 Amelia marked it as started-then-lost-or-abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I'll never get through this giant book by the end of the summer, and I have other reading goals to attend to. But I do love you, Howard.
Adam Bulkeley
The only reason this doesn't get 5 stars is the lack of scholarly articles. Other than that, an excellent collection of essays.
Good book but I read a bunch of the essays elsewhere and didn't realize it until I bought the book.
Mar 12, 2010 Jill is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This one is gonna take a while, its not going to travel on BART with me, too big!
One of my favorites! Filled with essays you will go back to again and again.
Mar 21, 2007 msondo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politics & history buffs
A personal look at Zinn and his wisdom on American history & politics.
I LOVE Zinn's ideas. However, sometimes he gets a bit tedious.
A great read any time, but even sweeter during war time.
Oct 06, 2007 Valery rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A great intro to Zinn for anyone who is interested.
interesting takes on American politics.
Feb 28, 2012 Dylan marked it as misc-research  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
The essay on Anarchism changed my life.
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Howard Zinn was a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and Air Force bombardier before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and was a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bologna. He received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs...more
More about Howard Zinn...
A People's History of the United States: 1492 - Present You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times A People's History of American Empire Voices of a People's History of the United States The Twentieth Century: A People's History

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“If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one's country, one's fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.” 15 likes
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