The Historic Unfulfilled Promise

The Historic Unfulfilled Promise




Press Reviews

Starred Review from Publishers Weekly

"This posthumous collection of Zinn's passionate, iconoclastic, and wryly humorous articles from the Progressive magazine spans 30 years—from 1980 to 2010—though most are of 21st-century vintage. Zinn argues repeatedly for an alternative to war, totalitarianism, and redistribution of resources and energy away from the military and 'toward ideals of egalitarianism, community, and self-determination... which have been the historic, unfulfilled promise of the word democracy.' Zinn persists with his optimism and sometimes proves astounding in his almost clairvoyant analysis, as the essays progress from Boston University student and faculty protests against the Vietnam War and the academic "Establishment" through the two Iraq wars, to Obama's expansion of the war in Afghanistan. In addition, Zinn writes of his own youth and radicalization, and his admiration for artists who "wage the battle of justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse," including a warm and perceptive memorial to Kurt Vonnegut, with whom he became friends late in life, and with whom he shared a conversion to pacifism after serving in WWII. His call to action will strike a chord with a younger generation of occupiers."


Booklist

"Historian and social activist Zinn, who died in 2010, was known for his often controversial views on politics, civil rights, and history. These essays, originally published in The Progressive, were written between 1980 and 2010 and spotlight his plain-speaking writing and keen analytic eye. Readers familiar with Zinn's writings, especially his widely read A People's History of the United States (1980), will note his usual unflinching approach to his subject matter and his apparent lack of regard for potential criticisms of his ideas. Similarly, both Zinn's critics and his fans (there are many of both) will not see any appreciable watering-down of his often contentious views on democracy and war, the two subjects most abundantly represented here. But here there is also an opportunity to see a side of Zinn that was often kept private. His 2007 essay, "Remembering Kurt Vonnegut," for example, eulogizes the acclaimed novelist with a rather touching personal statement of Zinn’s own affection for him. A sharp and insightful collection from one of the country’s most visible historians and critics."

— David Pitt


MR Zine

"Howard Zinn was called a lot of different names: anarchist, socialist, and communist.  He called himself a lot of different names, too: anarchist, socialist, and communist.  No one ever seems to have called him Zen, but maybe it's time to start . . . The Historic Unfulfilled Promise is a testament to Zinn's Zen politics: his refusal to be silent, to acquiesce, or to sever his ties with the downtrodden."

—Jonah Raskin