Howard Zinn’s Final Book: The Bomb

Howard Zinn's final book looks at two bombings that altered his life.

In These Times has a short piece about the late Howard Zinn’s final book, The Bomb.

 

According to Micah Uetricht:

In The Bomb (City Lights), Zinn offers brief histories of the two events that shook him most during that war: the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and the little-known assault on the French port town of Royan, in which Zinn himself participated. At the time, he was emotionally distant from the devastation in both cases. The Bomb serves almost as his apology—as well as a call against arms.

I have not yet read the book, but look forward to doing so.  I have written before about Zinn’s classic and controversial work A People’s History of the United States. While footnotes are noticeably absent from the work and it can be difficult in many chapters to find a president, the book’s first chapter about an alternative view of the Colombian exchange is in my opinion a compelling call to look at history from the perspective of the losers as well as the winners.

Zinn previously wrote about participating in the second bombing in his memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. I’ve added the documentary film by the same title to my Netflix queue.

An unabashed radical, Zinn wrote a strong defense of civil disobedience and what he saw as major fallacies in the law and order response to those actions in Disobedience and Democracy.

Zinn did far more than write, though.

His actions as adviser to some of the early SNCC chapters, during which time he got to know budding poet Alice Walker, led her to dedicate a section of her retrospective poetry collection.  They also formed the basis for his book, SNCC: The New Abolitionists, which was considered by some to be a standard account of that part of the civil rights movement until my former undergraduate thesis adviser Clay Carson wrote In Struggle.

The Uetricht article reminds us of the power of seminal moments to alter people’s life directions, sometimes permanently, and shows us how haunting memories can spur action decades after the original action is taken.

 

 

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