cover image A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

Howard Zinn. City Lights Books, $16.95 (293pp) ISBN 978-0-87286-475-7

Prolific author, WWII veteran and outspoken history/political science professor Zinn collects here almost three dozen brief, passionate essays that follow in the tradition of his landmark work, A People's History of the United States, taking up the cause of ordinary Americans fighting for social justice. Shunning conventional notions of American history, Zinn instead strives to decouple the country's history from its ""mythology,"" in part by examining familiar contemporary concerns like class, race, civil liberties, immigration and the Iraq War. Indeed, this veteran's profound disillusionment with war suffuses the work, but a polemic against the Bush administration this is not; while Zinn scarcely shies from critiquing the governing elite, he prefers to focus on little-known or underappreciated historical episodes such as Revolutionary War soldiers driven to mutiny or 1999 World Trade Organization protestors in Seattle. He also revisits and reframes well-known events, including the Boston Massacre and the Holocaust, and invokes figures like union organizer Eugene Debs and Vietnam War protestor Philip Berrigan to point the way forward. Though his observations can be bleak, Zinn's belief that ""history is powerful"" and will ""break down the credibility of the war makers"" gives his book a great sense of hope. Readers seeking to break out of their ideological comfort zones will find much to ponder here.