Magazine February 22, 2010, Issue

Professor of Contempt

Howard Zinn with writers and producers of the History Channel film The People Speak, July 29, 2009 (Fred Prouser/Reuters)
The legacy of Howard Zinn

With Howard Zinn, contemporary American academia found its court historian. Zinn, who died January 27 at 87, was like a gigantic echo chamber, accurately reproducing — and actively re­inforcing — every left-wing cliché with which the academy has abetted its sense of election these past several decades. “You see how smart he is,” saith the tribe, “he thinks exactly as we do.” Zinn’s biography tells us that he was the author of “more than 20 books.” But only one matters: A People’s History of the United States. Published in 1980 with appropriately mod­est expectations — it had, I read somewhere,

Roger Kimball — Mr. Kimball is publisher of Encounter Books, and co-editor and publisher of The New Criterion.

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