The Historic Unfulfilled Promise

Howard Zinn. City Lights, $14.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-0-87286-555-6
This posthumous collection of Zinn’s passionate, iconoclastic, and wryly humorous articles from the Progressive magazine spans 30 years—from 1980 to 2010—though most are of 21st-century vintage. Zinn argues repeatedly for an alternative to war, totalitarianism, and redistribution of resources and energy away from the military and “toward ideals of egalitarianism, community, and self-determination... which have been the historic, unfulfilled promise of the word democracy.” Zinn (A People’s History of the United States) persists with his optimism and sometimes proves astounding in his almost clairvoyant analysis, as the essays progress from Boston University student and faculty protests against the Vietnam War and the academic “Establishment” through the two Iraq wars, to Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan. In addition, Zinn writes of his own youth and radicalization, and his admiration for artists who “wage the battle of justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse,” including a warm and perceptive memorial to Kurt Vonnegut, with whom he became friends late in life, and with whom he shared a conversion to pacifism after serving in WWII. His call to action will strike a chord with a younger generation of occupiers. Agent: The Ward & Balkin Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
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