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Howard Zinn, D.E.P.

28 January 2010

Howard Zinn died Wednesday at the age of 87.

The embodiment of the “American Dream”, Zinn — a first generation American from the humblest of backgrounds (his father was a waiter) — obtained a privileged position in  American society, as a tenured professor of history at Boston University, by dint of American virtues like hard work and determination … and fulfilling his patriotic duty:

…Zinn joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 and even persuaded the local draft board to let him mail his own induction notice. He flew missions throughout Europe, receiving an Air Medal, but he found himself questioning what it all meant. Back home, he gathered his medals and papers, put them in a folder and wrote on top: ”Never again.”

The quintessential American success story, Zinn was vilified throughout his long and fruitful career for standing up for the American people… and their right to assembly and to seek the redress of grievances.  And for sticking up for old-fashioned traditional values like anti-authoritarianism and seeking “liberty and justice for all.”

From  an initial printing of five thousand copies in 1980, and with almost no marketing campaign, Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” would sell a million copies by 2003, and serving as a healthy tonic to those who seek to rescue history from premature burial in the graves of academe.  Not for nothin’ is God, Gachupines and Gringos (also with an initial printing of five thousand) subtitled “A People’s History of Mexico.”

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