Truth Has a Power of Its Own: Conversations About A People’s History
Never before published, an extraordinarily inspiring and radical conversation between Howard Zinn and PBS/NPR journalist Ray Suarez, wherein American history is turned upside down—published to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Zinn’s death.
Truth Has a Power of Its Own covers the course of American history from Columbus to the War on Terror from the perspective of ordinary people—including slaves, workers, immigrants, women, and Native Americans.
Viewed through the lens of Zinn’s own life as a soldier, historian, and activist and using his paradigm-shifting People’s History of the United States as a point of departure, these conversations explore the American Revolution, the Civil War, the labor battles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, U.S. imperialism from the Indian Wars to the War on Terrorism, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, and the fight for equality and immigrant rights, all from an unapologetically radical standpoint. Longtime admirers and a new generation of readers alike will be fascinated to learn about Zinn’s thought processes, rationale, motivations, and approach to his now-iconic historical work.
Suarez’s probing questions and Zinn’s humane (and often humorous) voice—along with his keen moral vision—shine through every one of these lively and thought-provoking conversations, showing that Zinn’s work is as relevant as ever.
Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, was perhaps this country’s premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents, poor immigrants, were constantly moving to stay, as he once told me, “one step ahead of the landlord.” After high school, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During World War II, he saw combat duty as an air force bombardier. After the war, he went to Columbia University on the GI Bill. He taught at Spelman, the all-black women’s college in Atlanta. He was an active figure in the civil rights movement and served on the board of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was fired by Spelman for his activism. He was among the first to oppose U.S. aggression in Indochina. His book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was an instant classic. A principled opponent of imperialism and militarism, he was an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience. He spoke and marched against the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. His masterwork, A People’s History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. Among his many books are A Power Governments Cannot Suppress and Original Zinn with David Barsamian. Just before his death, he completed his last great project, the documentary The People Speak. Always ready to lend a hand, he believed in and practiced solidarity. Witty, erudite, generous, and loved, Howard Zinn, friend and teacher, passed away on January 27, 2010. His words inspire many the world over, “We don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. To live now, as human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Ray Suarez was host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. He was chief national correspondent for PBS’ NewsHour for many years. He is the host of Inside Story on Al-Jazeera America. He is the author of Latino Americans.