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Truth Has a Power of Its Own

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“The Truth Has Power Of It’s Own” is so powerful. I was incredibly moved. I highly recommend everyone to read this. I can’t properly put it into words, but Howard Zinn knows how to give the world the truth we need. Thank you netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.
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The late historian Howard Zinn introduced us to new heroes such as Dorothy Day and the social-activism of Helen Keller among well-known heroes such as Rosa Parks.

Truth Has a Power of Its Own: Conversations About A People’s History is a thought- provoking collection of interviews of Zinn in 2007, presented by broadcast journalist Ray Suarez. The discussions were centered around Zinn’s best-selling book, A People's History of the United States.

In these interviews, Zinn looked at how history is taught and, why we believe what we do. He didn’t take a simplistic view of history, as he believed in listening to those with experiences different than his own. This, in turn would provide a more complex account of history.

He also debunked myths on what we once held as fact, from Christopher Columbus to the Revolutionary War, to the U.S. labor movement, to Teddy Roosevelt and beyond. The comprehensive index is helpful for revisiting an event.

We learn of many significant but relatively unknown conflicts in U.S. History such as Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and Gabriel’s Rebellion. And why was class conflict among soldiers in the Revolutionary War and Civil War overlooked in our history? I learned about it here.

“Democracy requires an active citizenry. Therefore, you might say the writing of history should itself be a democratic act. It should promote democracy by giving people the idea that they too can participate in history.”

So, why have so many schools stopped teaching American Civics and Government? 

I admit that Truth Has a Power of Its Own: Conversations About A People’s History is the only book I have read relating to Howard Zinn,  but it provides  a  fascinating introduction to his writings.

This was released on the tenth anniversary of Zinn’s death and will prompt other questions like those above, while providing a more complete view of history and how to look at it.

(The complete review will be posted on UnderratedReads on Feb. 16, 2020)
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An old interview (from 2006) makes it into an excellent book that becomes a Cliff Note/SparkNotes/Wikipedia of the significant highlights of A People's History. I like this because Zinn can (or through the power of editing) be succinct on significant moments in history that is easy to grasp in just a few paragraphs or pages. 

If I was teaching High School History is would be the first source, I would look for quick and easy to understand significant events/movements in history to start the topic.

I received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

I did read A People’s History of the United States  and was hugely impressed – I kept saying, “yes, this makes sense,” despite the fact that so much of this history was ignored/glossed over in school as I was growing up.  But, fair warning, it is long!

This book is like a taste of that one, much shorter, but still with the essential points being made.  It’s a series of interviews of Howard Zinn with PBS/NPR journalist Ray Suarez, discussing many of the points made and issues raised in A People’s History.

You don’t have to have read A People’s History to appreciate this book – Zinn’s responses are full and coherent on their own.  I’ll confess I’m biased – I agree with Zinn’s position that the history we have learned is “top down,” and that we’ve been taught history from the perspective of the rich and powerful, ignoring the other interests involved.  But, even if you don’t agree, you should read about and consider the actual events that he discusses, and decide for yourself how they fit into the narrative that you’ve been taught.

And, as I read, I kept thinking how relevant this all is, despite the fact that these conversations took place in 2006. For instance, discussing the Civil War, he noted that “a working class can be propagandized into a war that is against its interest, and that certainly took place in the South.  Then, of course, there is also the race question…”  White people could be told that “they were fighting to maintain the position of white supremacy…….” despite the fact that they were actually fighting to maintain the economic supremacy of the ruling class in the south.  How familiar that seems now!

If nothing else, this book will point out another way of looking at history.  And, it may encourage you to dig deeper, by reading A People’s History of the United States.  And I sincerely hope that the title turns out to be accurate, despite the way things look right now.
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In an age of fake news, rewritten history, and political spin, historian Howard Zinn reminds us of the importance of truth and how ignoring it sets us up as a civilization to remain broken and ignorant. Zinn's A People's History of the United States was a formative book for me. As an older teen contemplating a university history degree, it revolutionized how I viewed my nation's past as he highlighted the lies and exposed the truths behind our collective mythology around our so-called greats and their triumphs. His words influenced how I came to view my path as a budding historian: I wanted to be a truth seeker. 

Zinn continues with his honest and at times painful critique of American history in this amazing series of interviews. The interviewer asks questions in a perfect way to set up Zinn's thoughts and it reads easily, like a conversation between two educated friends. It's the sort of book that's revolutionary only if you process it and are willing to pull down your own guards of what you think you know. The format is easily digestible even for those with only a fleeting interest in history but history lovers like me will be enthralled by its frankness. I would absolutely recommend this book to any reader but particularly American readers will feel the weight of Zinn's words and his charge to us as citizens going forward. 

Note: I received a free Kindle edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher The New Press, and the author Ray Suarez as well as Howard Zinn for the opportunity to do so.
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This is a good, quick introduction to Howard Zinn and his works. It covers a lot of similar material and arguments made in A People's History, but despite this Truth Has a Power of Its Own further proves just how much Zinn still matters today.
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This book did not measure up to other Zinn books.  As another reviewer put it, too many softball questions.  If you are already familiar with Zinn's work,, you won't learn anything from this one.
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Since I read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History many years ago and had my eyes opened I have been a fan of his writing. I jumped at the chance to read the ARC copy of Truth Has a Power of it’s Own. As other reviewers have said the content is not fresh but is similar to what has been written before. It might, as a slimmer volume, be a great introduction to those who are new to Zinn’s writing. This or other of his work ought to be read by every college student to balance out the varying degrees of whitewashed history we all experience up though high school here in the US. 

 #TruthHasApowerOfItsOwn #NetGalley
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I first discovered Howard Zinn in my early teenage years and his philosophy of looking at American history through alternative lenses really resonated with me. I daresay I am a kinder and more empathetic person, and certainly a more critical thinker, because of Dr. Zinn. 

So this interview, while it doesn't include any groundbreaking or new viewpoints, was a welcome read. It is a good review for those of us who read A People's History a few decades ago, and a good primer for those unfamiliar with his work.

Highly recommended for students of American history or human beings in general.

arc received from the publisher
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Historian Howard Zinn (1922-2010) qualifies as a cultural icon, and as is usually the case that means there are likely as many people who hate him as consider him a hero. His seminal overview of American history, A People’s History of the United States, and its sequel, A Young People’s History of the United States, is either considered desperately needed to counter the accepted narrative on the subject or distorted and misleading propaganda, depending on whom you talk to.

“ In the nearly forty years since the first edition of A People’s History of the United States appeared, Zinn’s critics have tried to sandbag him,” says author Ray Suarez in his foreward. “Some complain that his iconoclasm, his tearing down of long-revered heroes, and his corrections to the record leave only a dreary slog through centuries of oppression, struggle, and suffering. Well, a historian’s job is to find out what actually happened.”

In this in-depth interview, done just prior to Zinn’s death in 2010 and scheduled for release in September 2019,  Suarez delves into how the historian believes his take on the subject has affected the trajectory of the US, and whether that influence is important.

For those not familiar with Zinn’s work, he views the events we all heard about in school from the standpoint of not the generals, politicians, and plutocrats but the common people. “[Y]es, let’s have heroes,” Zinn tells Suarez, “but let’s look for them in different places than on high in the seats of power where the heroism very often consists of exploiting other people or invading other people or taking advantage of other people.”

Now, as a tiny handful of progressive politicians are rallying the working class to confront the system that has done that for literal centuries, a book like Zinn’s, showing again and again how ordinary people have challenged powers and institutions seemingly unconquerable, and won, is vital. Again and again, the new wave of rebels is told they can’t possibly succeed, that the policies they demand are impossible, that they should be “realistic” and accept what the “more informed” people in power tell them.

Worse, they skillfully turn those who should be working together against one another.

“It’s a very common thing in history that people who are victims will turn upon one another”, Zinn says. “They can’t reach the people who are really responsible for their plight, so they turn on those who are closest to them.”

In those two sentences, Zinn likely explained the phenomenon of Donald Trump’s election. Even now, on social media, the tactic of turning the victims against one another occurs on a daily basis. Likewise, the corporate news media are masters at generating outrage, replacing one incident or individual—preferably both—with a new one as the emotional level declines.

This is an important book for those familiar with Zinn’s work but not the man, and Suarez has done a magnificent job of ensuring we never stray far from the latter. His questions elicit details those of us not privileged to have met Howard Zinn can use to more deeply understand him and, by extension, his work.

“The idea that people make history and can alter its course, that institutions have human origins and can be changed by humans, is truly subversive—and is a central reason [A People’s History of the United States] has drawn the ire of so many censors and would-be censors,” writes Anthony Arnove in his introduction to the 35th Anniversary edition of the book (Harper Perennial Classics, 2015). “Fundamentally, Howard had a confidence in people’s ability to work together and change their circumstances.”

Do get a copy of Truth Has A Power of Its Own when it comes out. Meantime, if you’re part of the New Revolution and haven’t read Zinn’s histories—and I confess I’m among you—get those and discover the history you didn’t hear about. As the battle for the future of both the US and the planet advances toward November 2020, the stories the books tell of success in the face of overwhelming odds will become increasingly necessary for inspiration. Or, as Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, who is one of the few individuals mentioned by Mr. Zinn, said:

“Some day we will have the courage to rise up and strike back at these great ‘giants’ of industry, and then we will see they weren’t ‘giants’ after all—they only seemed to because we were on our knees and they towered above us.”
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This book is based on a set of edited 2007 interviews between Howard Zinn and Ray Suarez. Howard Zinn was a premier historian of American history and labeled as anti-American by his adversaries. He's particularly well known for A People's History of the United States, which documents first contact with Europeans through the 20th century from the point of view of the oppressed, with an emphasis on civil rights and labor history. This was my senior year history textbook, and I'm grateful for Mr. Zinn (no relation) who assigned it. 

Howard Zinn is a phenomenal writer, and I found these short questions an even more compelling format for his arguments. This collection follows a simple Q&A format. I've read through A People's History of the United States several times, which is quite an endeavor. This felt like a good summary of the main points with some particularly inspiring passages at the end. It's quite short and accessible, so I might recommend it to people as an entry point into Zinn (or for students looking for a Cliff's Notes version). 

One of my favorite passages against American exceptionalism: "We have to start thinking of America as one among many, as a nation of people equal to other peoples but not superior to them. What that would do, aside from being an enormous psychological change for Americans, would be to bring about an honest recognition of who we are and what are limitations are, without denigrating ourselves.
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This book gives readers insights in the inner workings of the mind of one of America's foremost historians and critical thinkers, the late, great Howard Zinn. In "Truth Has a Power of Its Own" Zinn's provocative conversations with Ray Suarez challenge us to take a second, third and maybe even fourth look at the US and the world that we think we know. Zinn speaks about history and foreign policy with such an ease and candor that it doesn't feel too academic or heavy. Reading these conversations makes one feel as if they're in the room listening to the conversation. Highly recommended for any student of history or anyone interested in history from the perspective of the oppressed and downtrodden.
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Very engaging intro to or companion piece to Zinn's A People's History. He walks you through some of his thoughts behind APH and the conversation is compelling. If you have someone reluctant to get into Zinn for whatever reason, this makes his work very accessible.
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As powerful and important as any of Zinn’s work.  I loved the dialogic nature of this book and I’ll treasure the experience of reading it.  Zinn leads us to look at history (and humanity) in new ways.
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I requested this title on NetGalley as soon as I saw it because I have a soft spot for Howard Zinn. After all, reading A People's History of the United States is partially responsible for turning me into the "dirty liberal hippie" I am today ;)

Truth Has a Power of Its Own is like a TL;DR of A People's History. It's a whirlwind tour through Zinn's version of US history, which questions American exceptionalism and the "great man" narratives that dominate US classrooms. While A People's History is a hefty tome, this "conversation" is like its highlight reel.

As another Goodreads reviewer noted, most of the questions posed are softballs and/or leading questions. I would have liked Suarez to probe Zinn's thinking more fully or ask him to respond to counterarguments. That would have lent something new to the text that readers of A People's History haven't already heard.

One thing to note while reading is that these conversations took place in 2007. While some of Zinn's ideas about economic inequality sound like common progressive talking points today, they sounded revolutionary just a little over a decade ago. Zinn died in 2010, but I can't help but wonder what he would have to say about what's happened to the United States between 2007 and today.

Four stars for Truth Has a Power of Its Own, an easy-to-read primer on Zinn's A People's History.

Thanks to NetGalley and The New Press for giving me a DRC of this book, which will be available for purchase on September 3rd.
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