Howard Zinn

1998 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction

photo of Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 - January 27, 2010) was a historian, playwright, and activist. His classic book, A People’s History of the United States, has been called “a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those who have been exploited politically and economically and whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories.”

Zinn grew up in Brooklyn in a working-class, immigrant household. At 18 he became a shipyard worker and then flew bomber missions during World War II. These experiences helped shape his opposition to war and his passion for history. After attending college under the GI Bill and earning a PhD in history from Columbia, he taught at Spelman College, where he became active in the civil rights movement. After being fired by the college for his support for student protesters, Zinn became a professor of Political Science at Boston University, where he taught until his retirement in 1988.

Zinn was the author of many books, including an autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train and Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice. He received a Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction and the Eugene V. Debs award for his writing and political activism.

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