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Artists in Times of War and Other Essays (Open Media)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  729 ratings  ·  102 reviews
"Political power," says Howard Zinn, "is controlled by the corporate elite, and the arts are the locale for a kind of guerilla warfare in the sense that guerillas look for apertures and opportunities where they can have an effect." In Artists in Times of War, Zinn looks at the possibilities to create such apertures through art, film, activism, publishing and through our ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published September 2nd 2003 by Seven Stories Press (first published 2000)
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Sarah Pierce
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Yes, this man is against war and against President Bush, and he’s quite vocal about it. This is a collection of speeches he’s given and essays he’s written on war, its effects on us, and the people who have stood against it. If you are also against war/Bush, you will most likely agree with Zinn, who is best known for his A People’s History of the United States, which is next in line to be read by me. If you think that Bush is doing a bang-up job and that the Iraq war is going swimmingly, what ...more
Lorelei Ignas
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
important read for everyone making art in a Trump America.
Michael Anderson
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Zinn’s speeches are the source of most of these essays. The theme is that criticism of government is one of the highest forms of patriotism. We forget this. He talks about the responsibility of artists during wartime to speak up. He talks about the historical incidents, from the revolution to the Mexican War to the Civil War to the Spanish-American-Philippine War and beyond, that have never been documented in a Hollywood movie. He talks about personalities who gave up their freedom and lives to ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“How can you have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if you don’t have the right to food, housing, and health care?”
Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
Most of the essays in this brief book were public addresses Zinn made, so they make for fairly light reading--particularly if you're already aware of the injustice of the war in Iraq, which had just started when most of these were originally delivered. His chastising of Hollywood is really worth reading, though!
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war-genocide
short and sweet studies in transcendence and sass.

"The British actor Peter Ustinov spoke out against the war in Vietnam. Then somebody said "Ustinov? He's an actor. He's not an expert." Ustinov made an important point. He said that there are experts in little things but there are no experts in big things. There are experts in this fact and that fact but there are no moral experts. It's important to remember that. All of us, no matter what we do [professionally:], have the right to make moral
For people that have read People's History, this includes many of the same stories ''but seen from the perspective of artists'' like my friend said. I agree, I think the Ludlow masssacre would be a great paul thomson anderson movie (the guy that did THERE WILL BE BLOOD). His central thesis is spread over 10 pages, or so, so in that sense don't pick this up expecting a very involved, multi chapter treatise that is well-wrung and thought out. It's more musings, but for the short time ...more
Mohammed Aldughayyim

I have read the Arabic translation of the book. This book has changed my cognition and knowledge about politics. The book discusses the fact that people must be involved in making critical decisions. Leaving the important decisions to politicians has led us into a hugely dangerous path. Moreover, the author of the book gives you examples that prove that there is no such thing called democracy and that governments use this term to bluff its people and convince them that they have a true
May 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Howard Zinn is pretty fabulous and thought-provoking. The essays in this short collection are an inspiring look at Zinn's own activism, which he has fused to his work as a historian. Making no attempt at being unbiased, Zinn takes a firm position, laying out arguments that are insightful and challenging, which made me think about things in a larger sense than can sometimes be comfortable. Granted, it is fair to say that I'm basically on Zinn's side of these issues, but even though I already ...more
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you want to see things clearly as they are, read this book. It is Wonderful book that shows you the plain truth. It is historical, political, and kind of literary. I am not a big fan of historical/political books, but this one is amazing. It is written in a way that makes you believe in everything depicted in the book. The author provides proofs and stories to illustrate his point of views. The book is about USA,wars, Hollywood, artists, and novelists. This book is for all the previously ...more
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I love Howard Zinn and have deep respect for his work as a historian. These essay were great, but I wanted them to be more about the role of art and creative vision in social change movements. This collection barely covered that--the title was really a stretch. (It's a catchy line from one of the essays). Great little book if you want to read more Zinn, not so great if you're looking for sources on art and social change.
Troy Blackford
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made a number of good points, but I was not moved by the sort of preaching to the choir tone. At one point, he refers to something as a genocide, and the audience applauds. I mean, I get that they were applauding that it was time that the past atrocity should be recognized for what it was, but it doesn't change the fact that they just applauded that a genocide happened. But the factual points were spot on.
Jeroen Berndsen
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, historians who like film
Listened to it this afternoon. Wasn't quite what I expected since I was hoping there was a bit more 'movies' to it, but it was mostly history and politics. Zinn is an eminent historian enough to know what he's talking about and it is interesting to listen to him ramble for an hour about 'what the movies don't tell us', but in the end it's more a lecture about how real life works, with a short conclusion at the end of each subject (war or politics for example).
Sivananthi T
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Artists provide an important role in providing a dissenting voice in times of war. There are no experts in the big issues that matter, that any one citizen can speak up, voice out. But the evocation that artists can provide, can move many more to the ways of thinking, the stories, the voices that are suppressed.
Feb 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Brief and misleading.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another brilliant thinker of our time.
Mar 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Collection of speeches, published in the vein of early 20th Cent. political pamphlets. Lucid and brief, good ideas.
Oct 14, 2008 added it
Stellar series of powerful essays about the role of art and artmakers in times of war/repression. We are crucial!
Kyoungjin Lim
Mar 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: voice
Howard Zinn is warrior holding stronger pen than sword. He makes things 200% clear. It is sad that we cannot see his new writing anymore.
Matt Morris
Read my review of this & other books at
Bryan Lowe
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
good book, the title intrigued me. I had expectations, bur the book veered a little. Zinn is a grade A author.
Jul 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
nice, inspiring, wee little book.
I am not going to give a glib review of Howard Zinn.
Apr 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book made me mad.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awesome
howard zinn is really as amazing as you think he is.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting talk by the legendary Howard Zinn at Taos Talking Film Festival.
May 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essay
A gateway to 'missed history' events you may not have heard and what they mean today.
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you are an artist of any kind, this is MUST read. Short and sweet.
Lara Sabra
This book is amazing, just like everything else Howard Zinn has ever written. It is a collection of essays by Zinn which he iterated in front of college students around Massachusetts. He speaks about 9/11 and terrorism and how the U.S.A. has exempted itself from the terrorism it has practiced throughout history and still today, as well as Emma Goldman and the power of pamphleteering in America, and lastly the historical events that never make it to Hollywood and how this affects our ...more
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Howard Zinn was a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and a bombardier with the U.S. Army Air Force in Europe during the Second World War before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Zinn taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and was a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of
“Today everybody is talking about the fact that we live in one world; because of globalization, we are all part of the same planet. They talk that way, but do they mean it? We should remind them that the words of the Declaration [of Independence] apply not only to people in this country, but also to people all over the world. People everywhere have the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the government becomes destructive of that, then it is patriotic to dissent and to criticize - to do what we always praise and call heroic when we look upon the dissenters and critics in totalitarian countries who dare to speak out.” 80 likes
“What most of us must be involved in--whether we teach or write, make films, write films, direct films, play music, act, whatever we do--has to not only make people feel good and inspired and at one with other people around them, but also has to educate a new generation to do this very modest thing: change the world.” 59 likes
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