The Corner

Education

Howard Zinn’s Debunking

Howard Zinn was a lousy historian but a superb propagandist whose textbook on American history has been read by (or at least assigned to) vast numbers of students. Think of it as a precursor to the New York Times’ 1619 Project, an effort to discredit the nation’s Founding.

In today’s Martin Center article, history professor Wilfred McClay reviews a book that takes dead aim at the Zinn mystique — Mary Grabar’s Debunking Howard Zinn. He writes:

In Debunking Howard Zinn, Mary Grabar has performed the absolutely necessary task that her title promises, and has done so with admirable energy, persistence, and relentless attention to detail, leaving Zinn’s already shaky credibility in utter ruins. She brings the intensive scrutiny of a jeweler’s eye to Zinn’s work, topic by topic, and shows in no uncertain terms how flawed and unreliable it is.

Zinn admired Stalin and Mao. An early practitioner of false moral equivalence, he cast their policies as no worse than those of the U.S. He also grasped that there was a load of money to be made selling anti-Americanism.

McClay lauds Grabar’s indefatigable work in showing Zinn’s falsifications and adds:

Yet something else deserves to be said for this fine book. There is a noble spirit behind it. For all the critical tenor in Grabar’s book, beneath it all burns a fire of love for her subject: Love for the country Zinn and his epigones have so grievously maligned, and passion for the concept of history as a truthful account of the past, which Zinn airily rejected as a bourgeois myth.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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