Howard Zinn: His publisher rides to his defense





[Simon is the publisher of Seven Stories Press. ]

In his review of Howard Zinn's "Young People's History of the United States" (June 17), Walter Kirn misses the point. It isn't just that behind our socalled great leaders are often corporate business interests and other such uninspiring truths of history, but also that there is another unheralded force at work, one that indeed is very inspiring — the history of popular movements and of everyday people doing extraordinary things — and that is largely left out of other history books. Had Kirn chosen to wrestle with that part of Zinn's philosophy, I think it would have been a lot harder for him to paint the author's approach as overwhelmingly negative.

As Zinn writes in his introduction: "We all need heroes, people to admire, to see as examples of how human beings should live. But I prefer to see Bartolomé de Las Casas as a hero, for exposing Columbus's violent behavior against the Indians he encountered in the Bahamas. I prefer to see the Cherokee Indians as heroes, for resisting their removal from the lands on which they lived. … I consider Helen Keller a hero because she protested against President Woodrow Wilson's decision to send young Americans into the slaughterhouse of the First World War. My point of view, which is critical of war, racism and economic injustice, carries over to the situation we face in the United States today. "



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