History

The People's Historian?

Howard Zinn was a master of agitprop, not history

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Last week, The New York Times' somnolent columnist Bob Herbert complained that we live in a "nit-wit era," a time when it is "fashionable to bad-mouth labor unions and feminists even as workers throughout the land are treated like so much trash and the culture is so riddled with sexism that most people don't even notice it."

One person who did notice, says Herbert, was Boston University academic and radical historian Howard Zinn, who died last week at the age of 87, though not before bequeathing to America a series of books hostile to sexism and rather friendly to labor unions. "That he was considered radical," writes Herbert, "says way more about this society than it does about him."

But as the effusive encomiums from his peers and cheerleaders in both the media and academia suggest, "society" did look upon Zinn with admiration. Even the Associated Press rhapsodized that "Zinn himself was an impressive-looking man, tall and rugged with wavy hair. An experienced public speaker, he was modest and engaging in person, more interested in persuasion than in confrontation." The novelist Dave Eggers similarly praised Zinn in The New Yorker, arguing that "his effect on how we see and teach history is immeasurable."

Eggers is right about that. I'm sorry to sound a discordant note about this "great" man (The Guardian), this historian and activist of "limitless depth" (RT, who ceded hours of its coverage to the "American mahatma"). But while Zinn might have been an effective activist and a man of great modesty, he was an exceptionally bad historian.

It's a mystery how A People's History of the United States, which has sold over a million copies and currently sits at number fourteen on the Amazon bestseller list, has become so popular with students, Hollywood types, and academics. It is a book of no original research and no original ideas; a tedious aggregation of American crimes (both real and imagined) and deliberate elisions of inconvenient facts and historical events.

Much of the criticism of Zinn has come from dissenters on the left. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once remarked that "I don't take him very seriously. He's a polemicist, not a historian." Last year, the liberal historian Sean Wilentz referred to the "balefully influential works of Howard Zinn." Reviewing A People's History in The American Scholar, Harvard University professor Oscar Handlin denounced "the deranged quality of his fairy tale, in which the incidents are made to fit the legend, no matter how intractable the evidence of American history." Socialist historian Michael Kazin judged Zinn's most famous work "bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions."

Just how poor is Zinn's history? After hearing of his death, I opened one of his books to a random page (Failure to Quit, p. 118) and was informed that there was "no evidence" that Muammar Qaddafi's Libya was behind the 1986 bombing of La Belle Discotheque in Berlin. Whatever one thinks of the Reagan administration's response, it is flat wrong, bordering on dishonest, to argue that the plot wasn't masterminded in Tripoli. Nor is it correct to write that the American government, which funded the Afghan mujahadeen in the 1980s, "train[ed] Osama bin Laden," a myth conclusively debunked by Washington Post correspondent Steve Coll in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Ghost Wars.

Of Cuba, the reader of A People's History is told that upon taking power, "Castro moved to set up a nationwide system of education, of housing, of land distribution to landless peasants." Castro's vast network of gulags and the spasm of "revolutionary justice" that sent thousands to prison or the executioners wall is left unmentioned. This is unsurprising, I suppose, when one considers that Zinn recently told an interviewer "you have to admire Cuba for being undaunted by this colossus of the North and holding fast to its ideals and to Socialism….Cuba is one of those places in the world where we can see hope for the future. With its very meager resources Cuba gives free health care and free education to everybody. Cuba supports culture, supports dance and music and theatre."

There is also no mention of the Khmer Rouge or Pol Pot, though in a misleading digression into the so-called Mayaguez Incident, Zinn mentions that "a revolutionary regime had just taken power" in Cambodia and treated its American prisoners rather well. And it is untrue, as Zinn claims, that President Gerald Ford knew Cambodia had released its American captives in 1975 but still allowed a small Marine invasion simply to show American muscle after the Vietnam humiliation.

A People's History is full of praise for supposedly forgotten truth-tellers like "Dalton Trumbo and Pete Seeger, and W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson," all apologists for Stalinism. (Both Du Bois and Robeson were awarded the Stalin/Lenin Peace Prize by the Kremlin, and both enthusiastically accepted.) There is no accounting of communism's crimes, though plenty of lamentations that, after the Second World War, "young and old were taught that anti-Communism was heroic." Indeed, in the comic book version of A People's History, Zinn writes that the Cold War "would last for over 40 years" but "to keep it going required political and social repression on both sides" (emphasis in original).

Despite conclusive evidence from Russian archives, Zinn suggests the atom spies Morton Sobel and Julius Rosenberg were railroaded with "weak" evidence and their subsequent trials were simply to show "what lay at the end of the line for those the government decided were traitors." When Sobel confessed his espionage to the The New York Times earlier this year, Zinn told a reporter, "To me it didn't matter whether they were guilty or not."

This is a strange sentiment for someone whose job, one assumes, is to mine the historical record in search of historical truth. But Zinn wasn't, as Schlesinger correctly said, a historian in any traditional sense. Zinn abjured footnotes (there are a number of quotes in A People's History that I couldn't verify), his books consist of clip jobs, interviews, and recycled material from A People's History, and he was more likely to be found protesting on Boston Common than holding office hours at Boston University. But it is clear that those who have praised his work do so because they appreciate his conclusions, while ignoring his shoddy methodology.

This helps explain why few of his acolytes mention the effusive blurbs Zinn provided for David Ray Griffin's two books of 9/11 conspiracy theories, Debunking 9/11 and The New Pearl Harbor, or why A People's History uses the work of Holocaust denier David Irving to inflate the civilian death toll at Dresden.

His hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe, celebrated Zinn as "an activist who fought injustice wherever it festered," without pointing out that he defended injustice in the name of socialism, communism, and, in the case of Imperial Japan, anti-Americanism. A eulogist writing in The Guardian gushed that Zinn was an American "dissident," a term usually reserved for people like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, not those making documentaries for the History Channel alongside Josh Brolin and Matt Damon.

Call him what you will—activist, dissident, left-wing muckraker. Just don't call him a historian.

Michael C. Moynihan is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. I always confuse him with Dave Stewart. Not sure why.

    1. That’s funny, I always confuse him with Annie Lennox…

      1. That is odd. Something eurythmic about the whole business, if you ask me.

    2. Zinn was black and a 20 game winner for the A’s?

      1. Not Zinn, silly.

      2. I never thought Howard Zinn could throw the chin music, but I guess I was wrong.

        1. Great read I have been a huge fan of your blog for a very long time!!!

  2. He must be great. Gays named a drink after him.

    1. There’s a drink called the Pseudo-Academic Praise-Whore?

      1. The Dave Stewart? I’ve never heard of such a thing, though, to be fair, I’m not exactly conversant in gay drink names. I didn’t know drink names had gender preferences until now.

        1. Just keep sipping on that appletini.

          1. ooooh, make mine a mocha…

        2. I never thought Howard Zinn could throw the chin music, but I guess I was wrong.

      2. Zinn-findel!

      3. No, it’s called the Dickhead.

  3. I made it to, “a time when it is “fashionable to bad-mouth labor unions and feminists…” before coming to the comments to look for the Femenisting link.

    Lil’ disappointed in the link not being here or in the article.

    1. No, it’s called the Dickhead.

  4. The acceptance of Zinn shows how much sicker the Left is that the Right. Yes the Right has its share of nuts and ignorant old fools. But, if Zinn had displayed an equivilent amount of foolishness and dishonesty from a Right perspective, he would have been reduced to living in a cabin in Montana writing pamplets for the Birch Society or posts on 24ahead.com. But since he was a leftist, he got full tenure at BU and a widely praised book.

    1. So that’s what Cheney’s been up to since leaving office.

    2. If you were right Buchanan would be living in a cabin in Montana writing pamplets for the Birch Society and not be on Sean Hannity’s show (being introduced by Hannity as the great Patrick J. Buchanan).

      1. isn’t he?

  5. Matt Damon!

    1. Matt Damon

      I’m quoting Matt Damon.

      1. I’m fucking Matt Damon.

        1. with a strap-on!

    2. He went to Harvard!

      1. passing through the square is NOT going to Harvard…it’s a lot less damaging to your intellect

    3. If you were right Buchanan would be living in a cabin in Montana writing pamplets for the Birch Society and not be on Sean Hannity’s show (being introduced by Hannity as the great Patrick J. Buchanan).

  6. he would have been reduced to living in a cabin in Montana writing pamplets for the Birch Society or posts on 24ahead.com.
    _____________________________

    LOL I love you. In a manly way

  7. Bob Herbert, Tom Friedman, Gail Collins and Mareen Dowd. Has any newspaper ever assembled so much stupidty on one page? It is really is an amazing collection of people the Times has.

    1. You forgot Paul Krugman.

      1. How could I forget the Nobel Prize winner in home economics.

        1. Chad singing Krugman’s praises in 3…2…1…

          1. Oh, and Frank Rich, too. It’s like the Algonquin Round Table on Bizarro World.

            1. +1

        2. Chad singing Krugman’s praises in 3..

  8. As someone who owns a copy of “A People’s History,” I whole heartedly agree with Moynihan’s review, the book is simply bad history. In fact it is not even a good Polemic.

    Personally I am glad he’s dead.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

    1. What is funny is that it is not exactly like it is that hard to find bad things about the US in its history. If you want to write a one sided polemic about how horrible the United States is, material is not too hard to fine (slavery, wiping out the Indians, bullying South America, ect..) But Zinn was so stupid and single minded he couldn’t even do that without lying and getting the facts wrong.

      1. I’m going to dispute the “wiping out the Indians” bit because that history is wayyyy more complicated than that..but generally yeah.

        Kinda like those Afrocentric “historians” who try to claim Egypt was black/invented electricity while totally ignoring Kush and Axum.

  9. “Cuba supports culture, supports dance and music and theatre.”

    Why is supporting the arts so damn important to lefties? Would Cuba be worse off if everyone had food and freedom but, no dance?

    1. There are lots of humanities academics who congratulate themselves for being terrible tango/salsa dancers whatever. They often dress abysmally and have horrible taste in music.

    2. And that never happens in evil capitalist America. Only if you know don’t count probably five of the ten best art museums in the world, any number of world renoun symphonies, broadway and about a million other things. But I am sure Cuba’s state supported “art” is just so much better.

      1. Presumably, the private sector output of movies and music in the US, as influential as it is worldwide, doesn’t count as culture for some reason. On a dollar basis alone, the evil America outputs an immense amount of culture and all of it is top notch in quality.

        1. It is not culture if the government doesn’t fund it.

          1. +5

    3. No! There must be dance!

      1. or so said the gypsy…

    4. Especially dumb thing to say as the Cuban government has actively suppressed said cultural expressions that it considers to be “counter-revolutionary”

    5. Arts support amongst the left is such a joke. The arts are great as long as it’s “free”. But when it comes time to pony up for a magazine subscription, or actually art to hang on the wall, and not just some damn poster, that support evaporates.

    6. Incidentally, Cuba really didn’t support “the arts” at all, they banned jazz and all kinds of “American” mediums. Castro explicitly wanted only the authentic “Cuban” art forms supported… You know, to keep up the pride in the new socialist men of mother Russia Cuba.

    7. When poor brown-skinned people make art, it’s just so god damned uplifting.

    8. Why is supporting the arts so damn important to lefties? Would Cuba be worse off if everyone had food and freedom but, no dance?

  10. Once again, I will miss Zinn’s on-the-nose DVD audio commentaries.

    1. OMG. That is awesome.

      1. Fucking Elf-Istari coalition. I never trusted that Gandalf.

        1. And the last book fails to mention that they never did find WMDs in Mordor.

          1. Sauron was a friend to the common people. Look at how all his servants talked–the language of the working class, earthy, coarse, and real. Sure, he rebelled against the status quo, the hegemony of the so-called superior races, but his dreams of making everyone equal justified every torture, mass killing, and horrifically enlightened act of oppression.

            1. Why, it’s almost like the Eye was always looking out for you.

              1. It was, it was. If only someone could control our every thought and action like Sauron wanted to. Ruthlessly gentle Sauron.

            2. “CHOMSKY: Have you noticed that there are few consonants in any of these names? What we see?or perhaps I should say, “What we hear”?is a kind of linguistic hierarchy.

              ZINN: Between that of an Orcish name such as Grishn?k and a Mannish name such as Eowyn, you mean?

              CHOMSKY: Eowyn is hardly a name at all?it’s just a series of dipthongs. When the Elves or wizards or their deluded human pawns have consonants in their names at all, they’re mostly alveolar approximants or labiodental fricatives. Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas.

              ZINN: Whereas the Orcs?

              CHOMSKY: They get saddled with clotted sequences of nasals, velar plosives, and occasional palato-alveolar affricates. It’s quite extraordinary. The abstract vowels in the overlords’ names are clearly being valued at the expense of the more earthly consonants.

              ZINN: Another case of Elves and wizards not wanting to get their hands dirty.

              CHOMSKY: Or their tongues. I mean, could you imagine an Orc being named, say, Lewahoo or Horaiowen? It would be unheard of.”

              Heh…

    2. Of course the orcs are cannibals. They have to, since the Elf-Ustaris are only giving them maggoty bread.

    3. Thank you. My boyfriend (an ardent socialist and LOTR fan will absolutely hate it). I’ll forward the link to him post-haste.

      1. Why do you have a socialist boyfriend, don’t you want to kill him?

      2. Just don’t breed with him, okay?

      3. Socialist boyfriend!?

  11. Wow. I knew this guy was a real lefty, but I never read his book and honestly had no idea he was THIS far out there.

    I guess we should probably be thankful that he was a peaceful America-hating commie S.O.B. and didn’t go the full Weather Underground route.

  12. On a purely activist/dissident level, Zinn was surely successful. He absolutely was able to influence and reinforce to millions of people from the younger generations who hadn’t really grown up yet that the idea of American exceptionalism was based on lies and obfuscations that veiled the “real” truth behind America’s history.

    But the reality is that he was too late. The claims that A People’s History made about our education system “hiding” the truth about our “real” history is frankly, bullshit.

    We learned plenty in elementary school about what horrible things were done to the Indians or African slaves, etc., thanks Howard.

    The only wool pulled over our eyes was the crappy sweaters we got for christmas. And we could see fine whether they were on or not.

    1. Actually the education system fails to educate us about the money multiplier, fractional reserve banking, and inflation.

      1. My school did.

    2. In my Texas elementary school, I learned that these great Texas patriots were standing up for their liberties against a tyrannous Mexican government, which had the gall to outlaw slavery.

  13. I actually had to read that god-awful book for my AP US History class over the summer before the class began, and it didn’t even end up being graded. That was a wasted summer…

  14. Zinn is one of the “good” commies now.

  15. I know of a couple of high schools that use the book as reading material.

    1. History taught by the football coach or some hippy dippy feminist with hairy armpits all using Howard Zinn as the primary text book. I weep for the current generation.

      1. Excerpts of Zinn were required reading at my hippy high school. I survived.

      2. Actually all the classes I know of are AP and the people teaching it are morons. Such are the joys of having all your in-laws being in the teaching profession. (I should note it’s acquaintances with the in-laws and not the in-laws, they’re all Republicans. Fuck I’m surrounded.)

  16. So if we’re going to rate Boston’s biggest lefty academic douchebag, I guess it means that Zinn beats Chomsky: at least Chomsky is pretty-much regarded as competent (or even better) in his field, even if his politics are awful. Also, Chomsky is kind of a libertarian-socialist, which is way better than being an apoogist for Stalin.

    I still don’t like Chomsky, though.

    1. Chomsky is an apologist for the Khmer Rouge, which actually might be worse than being one for Stalin. And Chomsky was somewhat competant as a linquist. At least that is what people claim. But I defy you to find one sentence of his liquistic work that is even remotely comprehensible.

      1. It’s spelled LINGUIST, and you are an idiot. An “apologist for the Khmer Rouge?” Really…..

        1. Yes, he was making excuses for them in the mid-’70s. Don’t know if he later changed his tune.

      2. Use but liquistic should most definitely be a word.

      3. Sadly, Chomsky is indeed an extremely competent linguist. He is in fact, the originator of about three sucessive revolutions in the field, and is probably the single most important linguist in history.

        Sorry.

        1. please describe a linqusitic revolution…is that where we all start speaking a new language?

        2. [Citation Needed]

        3. Actually Chomsky is a pretty mediocre linguist, and his theories have probably done more to harm linguistics than help it progress. His approach is nonsense from an evolutionary and empiric standpoint. In 100 years he’ll be viewed in linguistics the same way Freud is in psychology. An interesting thinker but way off base.

    2. “…apoogist…” Intentional or not, it is funny.

  17. There’s a drink called the Pseudo-Academic Praise-Whore?

    We are thinking of different drinks. I was thinking White Zinn.

    The Dave Stewart? I’ve never heard of such a thing, though, to be fair, I’m not exactly conversant in gay drink names. I didn’t know drink names had gender preferences until now.

    White Zinn is so gay that even my un-hip, clueless self knows of it.

    1. WTF is White Zinn? Is this a proper noun? Are you referring to white zinfandel? How is this gay?

      1. Manly men don’t drink wine?

        1. Manly men don’t drink pink wine.

          1. White Zin is not a drink for gay men. It’s a drink for nice little old ladies like my mother and most of my aunts.

  18. (slavery, wiping out the Indians, bullying South America, ect..)

    I still breather, we have not been wiped out.

    Oh, Squirrell, the reply to this function is not working on this thread.

  19. Why is supporting the arts so damn important to lefties?

    It is the gateway drug to show tunes and we all know whare that goes.

    1. yes, cuban jail

  20. “I know of a couple of high schools that use the book as reading material.”

    That’s pathetic.

    In the eternal words of the great Hank Hill, “I don’t know whether to laugh of vomit.”

    1. “That’s funny.”

      “Funny how?”

  21. “Cuba is one of those places in the world where we can see hope for the future. With its very meager resources Cuba gives free health care and free education to everybody.”

    Oh indeed. In fact its healthcare is soooo awesome that untold thousands of Cubans have been healthy enough to float to Florida in hollowed out Winnebagos. One presumes they were trying to escape the sheer awesomeness of it all…

    1. Bourgeois deniers!

    2. More proof that free < freedom.

  22. NIce of the REASON staff to be so brave as to defame a man after his death, when he can’t respond. I generally like the magazine but this post is a little cowardly in my opinion.

    1. Superfluous maybe, given that Zinn pretty much defamed himself for his entire “career.” Cowardly, no.

      1. also, REASON had a complementary blog post too. So, fair and balanced.

    2. Libertylover thinks Zinn should get the full Michael Jackson treatment. “You’re dead! All is forgiven!”

    3. Most fucking lame argument EVAR

    4. When an academic dies all criticism of his work must end!

      1. Teddy Kennedy was an American hero, was he not?

  23. First, it’s not defamation if it’s true.

    Second, I’m quite confident Reason has told the truth about this guy before.

    1. Fair enough. It’s not like REASON doesn’t have writings that are ill informed in retrospect. See articles published during the buildup to Iraq war for examples of this….

      1. Your actions’ true nature are laid bare before the squirrel.

  24. Wow, that guy is pretty impressive is he not?

    RT
    http://www.web-privacy.cz.tc

  25. Let’s see. What does one call a person who asserts that the civilian death toll has been greatly exagerated rearding the Dresden Holocaust?

    1. I dunno. But anyone who knows your history of posting says to go away, neo-nazi.

      1. Nice try, Underzog.

        1. I’m not underzog. Underzog is an idiot. Libertymike is no better. He is a flat out holocaust denier.

          Perhaps you are him?

  26. Doesn’t it all boil down to – what government, system, etc….. leads to the highest percentage of the populace doing OK?

    To ignore the fact that the US, Western Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, China, etc, etc…… has done so is historically insane.

    1. Only if you are a utilitarianist

  27. Though I agree with a lot of the sentiment that Mr. Zinn caused more harm than good on a lot of topics, and certainly did not understand the virtues of capitalism or freedom, I think that we can put at least part of the blame for his popularity on ourselves.

    Let me give you an example of how: Let’s take the ‘anti-communist’ sentiment that was encouraged after WW2. It seems to me that the conservative side of the argument simply wanted to get people to repeat that ‘communism is bad’ (which I agree that it is).

    But it seems like so much time, so much effort was spent bad mouthing communism and black-listing communists that almost no time was spent educating people about the benefits of freedom and capitalism. Most time was spent telling people THAT communism was bad that no time was spent telling them WHY. Additionally, we lost out on a very real chance to make the MORAL CASE FOR CAPITALISM.

    Therefore, by not claiming the moral high ground we left it open for people like Howard Zinn who could swoop in, extoll the (imagined) virtues of socialism, and win over the hearts of our nations young people.

    It’s very troubling, and something that still occurs today. The most important thing we can do as libertarians is make the Moral case for capitalism.

    1. I think the degree of anti-communist sentiment in the 50s has been vastly overstated – by the left itself.

      They’ve gotten endless mileage out of Joe McCarty, and it has lasted them over 50 years, while pro-capitalist individuals have probably suffered at least as much or more as the ex-communist Hollywood writers who were blacklisted.

      Frankly, I’m sick of hearing about how those horrible right-wingers in the 50s concocted all this anti-commie sentiment to scare people. All of thaat shit happened decades before I was born, and all I have seen my entire life is rabid lefties hatin on the right and bitching about evil capitalists and corporations.

      There never was any “red scare” to me. There was a “red fetish”.

      1. Thank you Hazel Meade. Well said, and not said often enough.

    2. Don’t assume that nobody talked about the moral case for American capitalism. How’s this: “Today on the NATO line, our military forces face east to prevent a possible invasion. On the other side of the line, the Soviet forces also face east to prevent their people from leaving.”
      Wisdom from the Gipper: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall…..agan1.html

  28. Just an interesting comment about McCarthy and the left, one of his good friends till the end was JFK. In fact, JFK never spoke ill of McCarthy and even saw his intentions as American. When asked by other progressives why he wasn’t condemning McCarthy, “What do you want me to do, dance on his grave?”

    1. Zinn is not the only historian to tell flat-out lies about McCarthy. The book “Blacklisted by History” by M. Stanton Evans, which is abundantly footnoted, makes that clear. Here are a few key points: http://historyhalf.com/lying-about-mccarthy/

  29. “…work of Holocaust denier David Irving…”

    Irving simply delineates the immigration/ghettoization/transportation phases from the Final Solution phase of the Nazi Jewish program. One can follow the evolution of policy by the changes in Heydrich’s various and simultaneous job titles as well as the transmogrification of captured nations’ administrative status in the east.

    Irving does not “deny” the Holocaust. And, too bad for you, anyone who happens upon Irving’s books becomes a David Irving fan. His writing and scholarship have been applauded by such fine mainstream historians as John Keegan.

    I suggest the newbie read “Goring”.

  30. Great article, Michael Moynihan.

    I found another good skewering of Howard Zinn here:

    http://rayharvey.org/index.php…..-equality/

  31. Reposted from my comment on Zinn at c5ss.org:

    OK, let’s give Zinn’s entire paragraph on the Chinese Civil War a good Fisking:

    “In China, a revolution was already under way when World War II ended, led by a Communist movement with enormous mass support?”

    With enormous support from Stalin, that is, and whose “mass support” within China was so weak that Chiang was on the verge of wiping it out until the US stopped him (thus indicating a grain of truth in the claim that China’s government was under too much foreign control).

    “A Red Army, which had fought against the Japanese?

    Chiang Kai-shek fought the Japanese, too.

    “?now fought to oust the corrupt dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek, which was suppored by the United States.”

    Mao was even more corrupt & dictatorial than Chiang, and completely dependent on Stalin until right before the end of the Chinese Civil War.

    “The United States, by 1949, had given $2 billion in aid to Chiang Kai Shek’s forces?”

    How much did Mao get from Stalin? Including US Lend-Lease trucks diverted by Stalin to Mao, and weapons captured from the Japanese when the Kwangtung Army surrendered to the Soviets? No mention.

    “?but, according to the State Department’s own White Paper on China, Chiang Kai-shek’s government had lost the confidence of its own troops and its own people.”

    That would be the same State Department that was riddled w/ Soviet moles like Robert Service, but Zinn doesn’t bother to mention that. And that loss of confidence was largely caused by Marshall’s recommendations that Mao form a coalition government w/ the commies on the advice of those Soviet moles, and the US cutting off Chiang’s silver supply as the backing for China’s currency.

  32. As for David Irving: His fraudulent exagerration of the Dresden death toll was based on adding an extra zero to the estimate on the primary source document he used. IOW, the document said 20,000, so he added another zero to make it 200,000. Thus, someone who denies the exagerrated Dresden death toll is called a “serious historian,” as opposed to a Holocaust Denier.

    Which, BTW, Irving most certainly is, as proven in court when Irving sued someone for allegedly libeling him as such. He was rightfully demolished in court by the expert witnesses against him like Christopher Browning and Richard Evans. Even Keegan was clearly uncomfortable with Irving’s views.

    BTW, Keegan only praised the _first_ edition of Irving’s “Hitler’s War,” which was written before Irving had fully sunk into the fever swamps of Holocaust Denial (i.e., before he’d met Leuchter, Faurisson, etc., and come under their direct influence). Irving didn’t deny the Holocaust in the first edition, only in his later revised editions.

    Needless to say, Irving and his defenders are nothing but mud-dumb knuckle-dragging white-supremacist scum. I’m quite proud my maternal grandfather spent most of WWII killing the likes of them in Patton’s 3rd Army. Too bad none of them today have enough courage to give us legal grounds to dispatch them with hot lead as they so richly deserve.

  33. It’s easy to blankly discredit praise of Zinn, then cherry pick quotes in order to grind an ideological ax.

    In fact Sean Wilentz had also said of Zinn, “To a point, he helped correct mainstream popular conceptions of American history that were highly biased.”

    Such statement does not help to prove that Zinn’s work was completely without historical merit. The author of this article commits the same vice that many of Zinn’s detracters accuse him of: portraying one side as all bad, and the other side as all good.

    This articles main point is? Zinn=Bad

    1. Moynihan is guilty of the same thing he accuses Zinn which are under researched facts while he cherry picks quotes to criticize Zinn.

      Let’s hear the Zinn’s full quote on the Rosenberg trial:

      “To me it didn’t matter whether they were guilty or not. The most important thing,” Zinn said, “was they did not get a fair trial in the atmosphere of cold war hysteria.”

      Which of course is what happened. The Soviets already had the bomb and Rosenberg gave Russia non-atomic and military documents. Ethel was framed by the government to leverage a confession from her husband and shouldn’t have been executed. True they were spies, but not nearly on the grand scale they were played up to be by Hoover and the government. These aren’t my assessments but Martin Sobels assessments. Moynihan obviously found something he liked and cut and paste those parts that disagreed with his theory to portray something that fit his definition of Zinn. Shameful. If you want to hold Zinn to a higher standard, please do it yourself.

      Also, why does Moynihan have to steal his thesis from Sean Wilentz:
      http://articles.latimes.com/20…..-2010feb01

      Now it’s fine to disagree with Zinn, and good arguement can be made about whether or not he was an historian but use actual facts to refute what he says. There are some in Moynihans’ piece but most of it is just, well, agitprop.

  34. Moynihan is surely engaging in agitprop. Let’s take several of his examples regarding his attack on the People’s History of the United States:

    1. Zinn does not mention Cuba except to talk about the beginning of the Revolution, and then only to show how the US tried to strangle it. If Zinn was writing a history of Cuba, I’d have expected Zinn to talk about Castro’s cult of the individual dictatorship. But Zinn’s book is about the United States and its actions at home and around the world.

    2. Moynihan said Zinn does not mention the Khmer Rouge murderous regime. Again, that is not what his book is about. Zinn’s book, which was first released in 1980, also does not mention how the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by the Vietnamese in 1979 and how the US government immediately began supporting…the Khmer Rouge against the Vietnamese supported government installed in Cambodia. Incidentally, this official US policy continued throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s up to Clinton, ironically enough. So we are supposed to criticize Zinn for what again? Would it be right to criticize Moynihan for not pointing out these additional facts?

    3. The Mayaguez incident: Perhaps Moynihan would have benefited his readers by quoting from “The Last Battle” by Ralph Wetterhahn, a US military veteran and writer named who is not a leftist, who points out Gerry Ford and Kissinger did know before they invaded that the release of the crew was imminent but went ahead with the attack anyway. Zinn was relying on initial reports that showed Ford knew 20 hours before that the crew was being released, which is closer to the reality Wetterhahn describes than what Moynihan would have us believe. Worse, “The Last Battle” shows something even more detestable than Zinn or most knew at the time–the US continued its attacks after the release with the result that three American servicemen from the ship were stuck in Cambodia, and were promptly tortured and killed by the Cambodian government. Ford lied about that one for the rest of his life.

    4. Dresden: When Zinn quoted Irving, it was from a time when Irving was not considered a discredited historian, but somewhat to fairly acceptable. His figure of 100,000 dead at Dresden is now considered very high–the accepted number among WWII historians is now considered to be 25,000 to 35,000 killed–but was not considered ridiculous among many historians in the late 1970s when Zinn was writing People’s History.

    5. I am most troubled by Moynihan’s belief that Zinn is “full of praise” for Dalton Trumbo, Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger in the People’s History. The book has two references to Trumbo, which mention the critical acclaim of his book “Johnny Got his Gun” but only in the context of other authors’ novels of the time (page 365) and the reaction of Ron Kovic upon hearing parts of the book read (page 487). There is one mention of Paul Robeson as someone who was famous at the time, among others (page 439) “who did not hide their support and sympathy for the Communist Party at the time.” Hardly a hoary statement by Zinn. And Pete Seeger? Zinn mentions him once on page 527 along with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and says Seeger had been “singing protest songs since the forties….” That’s it. It makes me wonder whether Moynihan was cutting and pasting someone else’s attack on Zinn and that he really hasn’t read People’s History.

    Finally, let’s try a true comparison with textbooks used in American classrooms, and use James Loewen’s “Lies My Teacher Told Me” as a guide. I think we’ll find Zinn’s book holds its own with most historians’ textbooks.

  35. One correction for my comment: Zinn’s quote about Robeson says:

    “who did not hide their support and sympathy for the Communist party.” (Page 439, Zinn’s People’s History).

    1. Thanks Mitchell for the actual facts, reading Moynihan’s piece made me feel like I was watching Fox News.

  36. Chomsky’s views have influenced the way compilers are developed. For non CS geeks, compilers translate human readeable source code into computer executable binary programs. His views have had a significant impact outside of his field.

  37. I have to chuckle over Moynihan’s reference to Arthur Schlesinger and Sean Wilentz as speaking for the “left”. That falls into the same category of people who call Obama a socialist.

  38. Freedman: Zinn’s take on Castro follows the same template as his take on Mao: Evil US-backed dictator, overthrown by popular revolutionary movement w/ no mention of any foreign support (i.e., the Soviets, KGB, etc.), noble reformist agenda squelched by the evil US imperialists, etc. And it’s just as false for Cuba as for China. Batista fell because the US withdrew its support for him because of his excesses, and Castro was always a KGB tool (especially Che Guevara).

    Zinn would deserve more of a pass on the Khmer Rouge not being included in his book if his discussion of prior events in Cambodia weren’t so wrong. E.g., the 1970 US invasion of Cambodia was a success, eradicating the VC from the Parrot’s Beak, and the US bombing of Cambodia was done w/ the knowledge and permission of the Cambodian government.

    Zinn had ample opportunity to retract his citation of Irving on Dresden after Irving’s fraud was exposed in Irving v. Lipstadt. Also, Zinn’s take on Dresden is of a piece with his take on the atomic bombing of Japan, which is even more factually-challenged (as proven in, among other sources, Richard Frank’s “Downfall”). Far from being ready to surrender, the Japanese military build-up on Kyushu was huge, and they planned to mobilize the entire population as they’d done on Okinawa, where the US casualty rate was horrendous. There wasn’t even a majority in favor of making any peace offering at all on Japan’s ruling council, much less the absolute surrender demanded by the Allies, and it took a unanimous vote by the council to make peace. Even after Hiroshima, Japan was going to continue the war. It took a second atomic bomb to convince the Emperor to order the council to make peace, and he had to survive a coup attempt by the Japanese Army in order to get his surrender broadcast on the radio.

  39. Tim,

    Your history is weak. Mao had very little support from the Soviet Union compared to US help for Chiang. The reason is that Stalin ironically also had a very close relationship with Chiang kai Shek (read any bio of Chiang, starting with conservative Brian Crozier’s biography). Chiang’s son was even educated at the U of Moscow. Mao barely escaped with his life, and his wife was killed in 1927 when Stalin withdrew support from the Communists in China to side with Chiang. It is not to say there was no support from the Soviets, just that it was not even close to decisive for Mao and his group until after Mao consolidated power after 1949.

    Harry Truman disagrees with your assessment of Castro in his statements to Merle Miller in “Plain Speaking.” Castro was a player, and had he been treated better by the US government from the beginning, there was less likelihood of his becoming a ward of the Soviets. He may have been the next Batista or Somoza, which might have made conservatives in our country very happy.

    I’ll give you that Zinn should have updated his book on the topic of the Dresden bombings as more information regarding the number of civilians came to light, and Irving as a source became more notorious.

    However, you are in a small minority to think the US bombings of Cambodia was a success. Getting rid of the VC from the sanctuaries is not success if you destabilize the nation you are bombing (Cambodia) and kill so many people that a group of nutcases can come to power there. There was perhaps a wink and nod by Prince Sihanouk at the beginning, but he was powerless to stop Nixon, and both Nixon and the Prince knew it. So let’s not fall for the naivete of “done w/ the knowledge and permission of the Cambodian government.”

    On the bombing of Japan, the literature is vast to disprove any military justification. Secretary of War Stimson told Truman in the last part of July 1944 that if the US dropped its condition of prosecuting the Emperor, the Japanese would surrender. Truman said nuthin’ doin’, and even after two bombs were dropped on August 6 and 9, 1945, there was still no movement from Japan–until Truman said no prosecution of the Emperor. And then lo and behold, the Japanese surrender as the Emperor had enough support from the War Lords to save his own skin. Truman had a deal with the Russians to invade Japan and was looking forward to it even in late June 1945 (see Truman’s June 27 diary note that says “Japs fini” when Russians come in.). Then, while at Potsdam, Truman received word of successful bomb test, and he suddenly turned belligerent with Stalin, and pushes to use bombs somewhere, hmmm…Japan. One can forgive Truman for wanting revenge against the Japanese, one supposes, but the real game had begun with the Soviets, and he was sending Stalin a pretty clear message. Jimmy Byrnes, the Secretary of State, was once or twice pretty vocal about that being the reason.

    Look. History is not smooth, and it is not “objective.” That’s the point Zinn was making by knowingly looking at factual information through a different lens. Attacks on Zinn, without comparing to other texts by other historians, is itself another form of agitprop.

  40. One correction: Truman’s diary date on “Japs” being “fini” is July 17. He was talking this way right up to Potsdam.

  41. I freely admit that I couldn’t finish this little hatchet piece. I managed to get past the amateur-hour straw man attacks on socialism (Pol Pot et al…), but I just had to end the cognitive dissonance when he called Dalton Trumbo an apologist for Stalin.

    Hard to say if Moynihan is suffering from delusional paranoia, or if this is just red meat for his readership. I’m new to this website so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But even if this is simply a case of pandering to a questionable political stripe, its willful detachment from reality at the expense of a great writer’s reputation is ugly in the extreme.

    I came this site after seeing a piece on Bill Moyers’ program in which the Libertarian view, while not entirely convincing, was intriguing. I can only hope for the site’s reader’s sake that this piece is not indicative of the overall quality of the contributors to this website. But if it is, I’ll gladly stop visiting. There are plenty of intelligent conversations elsewhere.

  42. I have to take issue with Moynihan’s dismissal of Zinn because he eschewed footnotes. People’s History is written in the style of a beginning history text for an advanced high school or beginning college student and Zinn states his reasons for not footnoting at the beginning of his (300 item or so) reference list. It is better documented, with more references than the regularly assigned “The Enduring Vision” by Boyer which has no footnotes, quotes no sources and presents history as a narrative of acts, battles, and politicians. If Moynihan is willing to come out against accessible history when he agrees with the narrative, then so be it. But I would challenge someone to find anything Moynihan’s written which deplores the lack of footnotes and scholarship in the dozens of textbooks assigned to students right now which fall far short of the People’s History in terms of academic rigor.
    If the argument is about balance, where are the criticisms of textbook authors who *don’t* mention the sad facts that Zinn does? I certainly didn’t know the National Guard machine gunned a camp of sleeping union strikers in Colorado in 1914 (Ludlow massacre). Why no outrage about the federal government killing women and children? I guess that’s not the kind of liberty conservatives believe in.
    It’s probably for the best this author didn’t pursue an advanced degree.

  43. Sorry Freedman, but yours is the weak history. Mao was completely dependent upon Soviet support, regardless of the temporary Soviet alliance with Chiang or the relative quantities of US support for Chiang vs. Soviet support for Mao. Without Soviet support, Mao would’ve been wiped out long before 1949. Even with Soviet support, Chiang was on the verge of wiping him out when the US pressured him not to. See “Mao: The Unknown Story” by Chang and Halliday on this.

    Your argument from authority citing Truman on Castro’s alleged non-Soviet alignment is rather ironic given that you later fault Truman for allegedly being unwilling to negotiate with Japan. However, in fact, Castro was always anti-American and pro-Soviet. Even Wikipedia agrees with me on this:

    “In 1950 he graduated from law school with a Doctor of Laws degree and began practicing law in a small partnership in Havana.[25] By now he had become well known for his passionately nationalist views and his intense opposition to the United States. Castro spoke publicly against the United States involvement in defending South Korea in the Korean War.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F…..revolution

    Your grasp of my own statements is also weak, as I said that the US invasion of Cambodia was successful, not the bombing of Cambodia (although I would defend that claim, too). My claim about the US bombing of Cambodia was that it was done with the permission of the Cambodian government. As for the destabilization of Cambodia, that was done by the Viet Cong, Khmer Rouge, and Prince Sihanouk’s attempted neutrality in the Second Indochina War, as Sihanouk himself later admitted. Sihanouk was allowing the Ho Chi Minh trail to run through Cambodia, allowing the VC to set up the Khmer Rouge as their proxies in Cambodian territory (where they imposed collectivized agriculture with just as much brutality as they later imposed upon the whole country), and selling rice to North Vietnam without letting the Cambodian military fire a shot at the commies. That is what led to Lon Nol’s coup d’etat against Sihanouk, so he could finally engage in armed resistance against the commies. It was the cessation of US support for Lon Nol that led to the fall of Phnom Penh and the killing fields. BTW, Lon Nol’s coup and the US invasion of Cambodia were in 1970, while the US bombing of Cambodia was in 1973. The destabilization of Cambodia thus preceded the bombing by a few years, and couldn’t possibly have been caused by the bombing. And Sihanouk was plenty powerful enough to stop Nixon from entering Cambodia from 1965 to 1970 even in hot pursuit, which is why it had to wait until after Sihanouk’s overthrow.

    As for Japan, you correctly cite the report made by US Under Secretary of State Grew, our greatest diplomatic expert on Japan at the time, that Japan would be willing to accept surrender if the Emperor was allowed to remain in power. However, you are wrong to claim that Japan ever expressed any such willingness before the Emperor’s radio broadcast of his offer to surrender. I cited Richard Frank on this before, and he specifically refutes your claim:

    “Because of Grew’s documented advice to Truman on the importance of the Imperial Institution, critics feature him in the role of the sage counsel. What the intercept evidence discloses is that Grew reviewed the Japanese effort and concurred with the U.S. Army’s chief of intelligence, Major General Clayton Bissell, that the effort most likely represented a ploy to play on American war weariness. They deemed the possibility that it manifested a serious effort by the emperor to end the war “remote.” Lest there be any doubt about Grew’s mindset, as late as August 7, the day after Hiroshima, Grew drafted a memorandum with an oblique reference to radio intelligence again affirming his view that Tokyo still was not close to peace.”
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/…..4mnyyl.asp

    If Truman really was looking forward to Soviet participation in an invasion of Japan, then he was even more naive about the Soviets than I’d previously thought, and we and the Japanese have even more reason to be grateful that MacArthur kept Stalin from turning Hokkaido into “Northern Japan” along with North Korea, North Vietnam, and East Germany. That would just discredit Truman’s judgement even further if he actually was as naive as you said he was about Castro. Truman was nowhere near being aware of the Soviet threat at Potsdam, which is why he allowed Soviet moles to continue to run rampant throughout his administration despite being told about the Venona decrypts, why he allowed the OSS to be abolished without immediately replacing it with the CIA, etc.

  44. “… a time when it is ‘fashionable to bad-mouth labor unions and feminists even as workers throughout the land are treated like so much trash and the culture is so riddled with sexism that most people don’t even notice it.'”

    In 1995 tenured leftists at Yale stomped on a labor union of teaching assistants.

    Plus, we all know about the leftist alliance with Muslims, who are incredibly sexist.

    Somehow, I don’t think these are what Bob Herbert is talking about.

  45. Nice to get Tim all riled up. We are a long way now from calling Zinn a propagandist, aren’t we? And those who attacked Zinn are on the verge of admitting that things are well…complicated.

    Truman realized his errors after he left office. No contradiction there, Tim. Truman also told Merle Miller in “Plain Speaking” that unleashing the CIA was his biggest mistake. Tim thinks Truman turned naive. I see wisdom from experience. That’s just a difference of opinion, not fact.

    Tim admits behind all the folderol that begins his last response that Chiang had a “temporary alliance” with Stalin. Nice to see Tim reading something new. Still, he clings to a minority view that Chiang was on the verge of winning. To me, that sounds like Charles Keating telling regulators he was going to be able to turn around Lincoln Savings if they hadn’t arrested him. General Stillwell didn’t start out thinking Chiang was a loser, and we can all rip Stillwell, but he was there on the ground, so maybe not.

    Truman on the Soviets and Hiroshima: Grew may have wondered about Japanese intentions by August 9, 1945, but let’s remember Grew was angling to stay relevant in a new Cold War world that was dawning. If you watch what Harry Dexter White was doing by late 1944, he was already angling out of the fellow traveler orbit. What Tim may not want to face is that Stimson remained adamant and consistent about the Emperor issue being the issue to jettison for peace, and most of the Joint Chiefs strongly believed Japan was on the ropes and looking to save the Emperor. Tim is reduced to ripping Truman, something he never thought he’d have to do until he tangled with me. Again, I give him credit for trying to see how complicated things can become…

    Finally, Cambodia: The Nixon invasion didn’t seem to work out any better than the bombings. Tim is rankled how those pesky Viet Cong went deeper into Cambodia and destabilized the place, as if the bombings had little or no impact. Does Tim need to have his house bombed to understand how people might react even without communist soldiers from another country around? Plus, the Ho Chi Minh Trail still kept working well, kind of like the Energizer Bunny (he said with sarcastic mischief) despite bombing and invading sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnamese borders. The Phoenix program and subsequent similar programs killed lots of South Vietcong, but the North simply brought in Northern re-enforcements so that by the time Nixon brought us “peace with honor” (Stanley Karnow said it was not much different than what the Vietnamese commies offered in 1969), there were far more North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam than before all the extra and new bombing all over the area. Yeah, a real success.

    Does anyone else find Tim’s points compelling? If not, I’m through with this thread. And Michael, you wimp, you left Tim all alone out here. Shame on you. First, you do a drive by on Izzy Stone and now you do a drive by on Zinn. But you don’t have the guts to defend yourself.

  46. Tim’s main problem is Moynihan’s applying a level of historiographical critique to a leftist history written for a main stream reader that he would not apply to a conservative history written for the same audience. His analysis, while interesting, is the product of a political hack. The People’s History is not a dissertation or a journal article.

    As for Japan and the end of the war, Mitchell much of the “the atomic bomb wasn’t necessary” history has been discredited in solid articles appearing in peer reviewed journals. But this is irrelevant – Zinn expressly didn’t want to run off into the weeds of elite academic debate. The academic dishonesty is, once again, holding a book to a standard it was uninterested in meeting. The People’s History is much better documented than a high school history textbook and better documented than most introductory college level books. It makes intentionally contrarian points about history to inform the reader that maybe what you were told in high school isn’t the whole picture. Again, the critics here would not apply the same level of criticism to a history text telling a story they liked. This is the heart of intellectual dishonesty which infects today’s conservative movement. Conservatives don’t like contradiction of their fables, so they don’t like Zinn. This article is at root a partisan hack job written by a dilettante with access to Google.

  47. Freedman still doesn’t know what he’s talking about, especially when it comes to my views. I’ve always had a low opinion of Truman, for trying to nationalize the US steel industry & impose socialized medicine, as well as failing to grasp the looming Commie threat until it was too late to do anything about it. He was right to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, but that was thanks to the facts that he had better intelligence than anyone else at the time (and better than Freedman’s Cold-War-Revisionist historians until that intel was declassified about a decade ago), and the fact that all he had to do was follow FDR’s policy.

    Freedman makes it look like Japan was on the verge of surrendering if only the US had offered to spare the Emperor. However, there was never any official communication to that effect from Japan, and even after the Emperor had ordered the ruling council he had to survive a coup attempt by the military. (The plan was to kidnap the Emperor & prevent his surrender speech from being broadcast. The coup was thwarted in part due to a blackout of Tokyo when a B-29 bombing raid overflew it on the way to an oil refinery in northern Japan.) The Emperor’s predecessors had been assassinated by the military, and the military wanted to continue the war even after Nagasaki.

    Chiang’s temporary alliance w/ Stalin was far from being news to me, and General Chennault was also on the spot w/ Chiang and had quite a different opinion of him than Stilwell.

    The Cambodian incursion of 1970 not only captured lots of enemy weapons, supplies, and documents, it also put a stop to all further invasions of South Vietnam from Cambodia. It also helped put a stop to guerilla activity in South Vietnam, which was pretty much pacified by 1971 (see “A Better War” by Lewis Sorley on this; also, since Freedman likes citing commanding generals when they support him, I’ll point that General Abrams thought the Cambodian incursion successful, too). The cessation of guerilla activity in South Vietnam was why Hanoi had turned to conventional invasion, and the clearing of the Parrot’s Beak is why all Hanoi’s subsequent invasions of South Vietnam came directly from North Vietnam, not through Laos or Cambodia. The Easter Offensive failed, because ARVN was backed by US airpower & logistics; the 1975 invasion succeeded, because the antiwar democrats had defunded MACV and ARVN was running out of bullets.

    The US bombing of Cambodia was in 1973, and helped keep the commies from taking Phnom Penh until 1975. The territory bombed had little indigenous Cambodian population, which is why it was permitted by the Cambodian government in the first place. The only people there were the Viet Cong, Khmer Rouge, and the Khmer Rouge’s civilian slaves, who were supporting the war effort on the KR’s collective farms. There weren’t anywhere near enough innocent bystanders living there to get allegedly radicalized against the Cambodian government. The KR’s brutal social transformations in the territory they controlled long preceded the bombing, and were inspired by Mao’s Cultural Revolution, not anything the US ever did.

    As for Phoenix, it was also successful, as Mark Moyar has shown in his book on it. Depleting Hanoi’s southern cadre and forcing them to send in reinforcements was a success, and helped contribute the virtual cessation of guerilla activity in the South by 1971 (as testified by Sir Robert Thompson, a veteran of the Malayan Emergency and former head of the British military advisory committee to South Vietnam, who extensively inspected the South as a consultant for Nixon at the time).

    BTW, I.F. Stone was a Stalinist agent who blamed South Korea for its invasion by Kim Il Sung. Even Khruschev admitted that the commies started that war. Is there no commie apologia so vile that you won’t defend it?

  48. Ian: It’s no defense of Zinn to say that he just popularized pro-commie history, especially when the pro-commie version has long since been discredited in academic circles (if it ever had any plausibility in the first place). And I most certainly do apply the same standard to popular histories written with a conservative slant. E.g., I’m quite sympathetic to the critical review of Thomas Woods’ take on American history by Jeffrey Rodgers Hummel, even though Hummel and I have plenty of disagreements with each other:

    http://www.la-articles.org.uk/woods.htm

    1. Tim,
      The argument on dropping the atomic bomb on Japan is fundamentally about the motives of the US government, and current historiography indicates that desire to save American lives motivated the decision. There is no good evidence of other motivations trumping this one. The decision however was hotly debated among those who knew about the bomb. The comment “He was right to drop the bomb” could only be refuted with the counterfactual and as this is history that’s impossible. That type of comment is sophistry of the grade school variety and has no place in an adult discussion. You also cannot say that Japan would have kept going if the Nagasaki bomb was dropped because we cannot roll back time and see what would have happened if Russia had declared war without the second bomb.
      That Zinn wrote a “pro-commie” history is a little absurd. Is it “pro-commie” to write about the Ludlow massacre? Would you run out and call any history book that doesn’t mention it a whitewash of our government’s crimes? What does machine gunning women and children in a strike camp say about our government?
      “The pro-commie version has long been discredited”? Hmm, Marxist historiography is still around and kicking and leftist critiques of subtler stripes are prevalent. Care to cite some peer-reviewed articles to support your assertion of an entire category of historigraphy being discredited in “academic circles”? The plural would suggest multiple examples. Or better yet, put forth a history of the United States between Columbus and 1990 which you consider exemplary and let me pick some nits. All history is biased, it’s a question of how.

  49. Hehe. Zinn was a stupid commie but the author of this rant is a motherfucking neocon. Good job ‘reason’.

  50. Last week, The New York Times’ somnolent columnist Bob Herbert complained that we live in a “nit-wit era,”

  51. How influential could Zinn have been? I’ve never heard of this guy. It’s not like he had influence over government access control systems or really that much following. In death, he may have his fifteen minutes, but that’s it. I’m not worried.

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  54. I am just finishing a college class where I was forced to read selected chapters from Zinn’s books, A PEOPLE’S HISTORY and VOICES OF A PEOPLE’S HISTORY. It was rough.

    I have read several columns such as this one above, but what I have been looking for is a site that has a point by point listing of Zinn’s errors, mistakes, falacies, etc.

    Anyone know of anything?

  55. A good article about the history Thanks a lot.

  56. free french software translated to : “logiciel gratuit

  57. nice article. but asking myself : why this title ?

  58. Thanks a lot for this history post

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