Magazine | March 22, 2010, Issue


Zinnful America

I was struck by the aggrieved tone of Roger Kimball’s article on Howard Zinn (“Professor of Contempt,” February 22). I came across A People’s History of the United States a couple of decades ago just by chance. I enjoyed it not because it bashed the United States, but because it detailed the history of so many people whose stories were never part of the history I studied in high school and college. Instead of feeling bad about the U.S., I was uplifted by what I learned of the efforts and personal sacrifices and fortitude of so many Americans.

Just as when one reads conventional history books and one has to divine the impact that wars and depressions and explorations had on ordinary people, so with Zinn’s history one has to divine the motivations and character of the politicians and decision-makers and business leaders. Two sides of a coin. You need to see both, but you must acknowledge that at any time you are seeing only one side.

Mark Phillips

Seattle, Wash.

Roger Kimball replies: Mr. Phillips’s letter reminds me of Hazlitt’s description of the commonplace critic: the chap “believes that truth lies in the middle, between the extremes of right and wrong.” This is an insalubrious place to be. What we are dealing with in Howard Zinn’s book is not another “side” of a coin; it is (to continue Mr. Phillips’s metaphor) counterfeit specie, whose hollow ring tells us that its aim is not to enlighten or inform but to indoctrinate and politicize. The first duty of the historian is to register facts accurately. This, Howard Zinn ostentatiously failed to do. A People’s History is a tapestry of politically motivated misrepresentations of America. Mr. Phillips writes that he was “quite uplifted” by some of the stories he read in Howard Zinn’s book. Alas, he was borne aloft by a lie. 

Default Risk

In “The Week” (February 22), I was more than amused by the editors’ Walter B. Wriston–esque phrase, “Working for the government is a sweet gig; not only will your employer never go out of business, but . . .”

Wriston’s “Countries don’t go broke” had the same flavor — but then Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina went belly-up and floated down a river of abrogated sovereign debt.

The supercalifragilisticexpialidocious level of deficit spending today could well turn the PIGS into the PIGSUS, and those lavish government pensions into a Madoff Memory.

William B. May

New York, N.Y.

NR Staff — Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

Rowing Upstream

In the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 election, John Judis of The New Republic declared that the country had completed a Democratic realignment — that American politics had fundamentally shifted ...
Politics & Policy

Color by Numbers

Among the few Americans who have heard of Chester Alan Arthur, his main accomplishment as president is generally considered to be civil-service reform. The Pendleton Act (1883), adopted at Arthur’s ...
Politics & Policy

Zoned Out

Great Falls, Mont. – They could barely have looked worse. An out-of-towner from Missoula, the “progressive” enclave of Montana, sang the praises of his large-scale marijuana grow operation. A “patient” swayed ...


Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Teach for America

In recent years, two conservative ideas about education have gone mainstream, capturing the imaginations of reformers across the political spectrum. The first is “accountability” for raising students’ test scores, enforced ...
Politics & Policy

Saving Lincoln

Although it’s set a century and a half ago, this thriller by veteran NR writer and first-time novelist John J. Miller deals with a problem that still bedevils us today: ...
Politics & Policy

The Enemy Within

Future biographers of Martin Scorsese will find themselves reckoning with two distinct periods in his filmmaking: the De Niro epoch and the DiCaprio era. In the first 25 years of ...
The Straggler

No Hiding Place

My breakfast-time reading matter of choice, the New York Post, has regular stories about long-separated friends, lovers, and family members who find one another via Google. Here’s one: “High School ...


The Long View

Last Week’s Twitterstream

From @therealharryreid: Excited about t2day’s Health Care Summit. Really think we’ll get Repubs to cave. #lookingood4HCR From @itspronouncedbayner: Excited about t2day’s Health Care Summit. Really think we’ll get Dems to cave. ...
Politics & Policy


AFTER READING THE JOURNALS OF GEORGE FOX They told me, “We’re quite busy here.” I told him, “Stay away from me.” I lay awake. I watched the wind Unwind the branches of a tree. I ...
Country Life

Leviathan Swallows a Toaster

Recently, in yet another example of the reforming zeal that swept Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger into office, California’s Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair was merged with the Bureau of Home ...
Politics & Policy


Zinnful America I was struck by the aggrieved tone of Roger Kimball’s article on Howard Zinn (“Professor of Contempt,” February 22). I came across A People’s History of the United States a ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ If only Rahm Emanuel could fire the president. ‐ Indiana governor Mitch Daniels now says he is “open” to seeking the Republican presidential nomination, a change from his previous position. ...

Most Popular


On College Campuses, Where Are the Adults?

Last week, political scientist and author Charles Murray spoke at a dinner in Manhattan about the death, as he calledit, of the American Dream. The “Disinvitation Dinner,” is given annually by Lauren Noble’s William F. Buckley Jr. Program to honor a speaker who has been kicked off a college campus for ... Read More

Hurray for the NBA

Last month, just before the Final Four, I did a Q&A on college basketball with our Theodore Kupfer. Teddy K. is back, by popular demand, joined by two other experts: Vivek Dave, an old friend of mine from Michigan, who has long lived in Chicago, and David French, National Review’s Kentucky Kid, now ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More

Joy Reid Denies Writing Homophobic Blog Posts

MSNBC personality Joy Reid's former blog, The Reid Report, published a series of anti-gay posts, which she claims were added to the site after it was shut down, by a hacker intent on destroying her reputation and nascent cable-news career. Reid, who discontinued the blog roughly a decade ago, apologized in ... Read More

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More