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Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics

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Historian, activist, and bestselling author Howard Zinn has been interviewed by David Barsamian for public radio numerous times over the past decade. Original Zinn is a collection of their conversations, showcasing the acclaimed author of A People's History of the United States at his most engaging and provocative.

Touching on such diverse topics as the American war machine, civil disobedience, the importance of memory and remembering history, and the role of artists—from Langston Hughes to Dalton Trumbo to Bob Dylan—in relation to social change, Original Zinn is Zinn at his irrepressible best, the acute perception of a scholar whose impressive knowledge and probing intellect make history immediate and relevant for us all.

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About the Author:

Howard Zinn (1922–2010) was a historian, playwright, and social activist. In addition to A People’s History of the United States, which has sold more than two million copies, he is the author of numerous books including The People Speak, Passionate Declarations, and the autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

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Adult/High School–A collection of eight of Zinn's interviews with Barsamian for public radio during the last decade, plus Zinn's 2005 commencement address at Spelman College. These conversations cover a range of topics, but especially late-20th-century American imperialism and the resistance and dissent that it has engendered. From an informed and steadfast leftist point of view, Zinn lashes out against the American war machine, with a particularly strong criticism of the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. His theme is clear and persistent: we need to know the truth of what is happening and has happened in the arenas of national and international politics, and we must preserve this truth as part of our collective memory if there is to be any hope of avoiding the social injustices of the past. This is not only Zinn's theme, but also his mission in life. Whether or not one agrees with his political stance, it is hard to deny his keen intellect, vast knowledge, and passion for the rigors of scholarship. The less-formal nature of these conversations, as opposed to traditional historical writing, will be welcomed by those wanting to dip into the political history of the recent past without devoting too much time and energy to doing so. Zinn has a gift for making complex historical subjects immediate, comprehensible, and even tantalizing for average readers. There is a large measure of insight and passion in these conversations, and enough to make history and politics subjects of direct relevance to many teens.–Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA
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