Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

I’m a little ashamed to say that I first learned about “A People’s History of the United States” when Matt Damon mentioned it in the movie “Good Will Hunting.”  I’m also a little ashamed to say that I went out and bought it because, at the time, I had a huge crush on Matt Damon.

In retrospect, of course, I’m glad I did (buy the book, that is). Author Howard Zinn presents what is usually described as a Leftist perspective on history, but that, to my reading, seems like a version of history told from the viewpoints of people who lost political battles and thus did not get their fair share of time in the historical record. History, as we all know, is written by “the winners.” One might argue that this book by Zinn gives “the losers” their chance to balance the rhetoric we’ve all been taught since elementary school.

As a writer, I found the concept eye-opening, even if I didn’t always agree with the content.

I was thus sad to hear of Zinn’s death yesterday, as few books leave as big an impression on me as his did, even  now, many years after I first read it.  Most likely, there will be a surge of people buying the book because it will be mentioned in the news along with his death. If you want to be among them, Amazon lists it here for $10.

Money well spent, in my opinion.

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