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A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0872864757
ISBN-10: 0872864758
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prolific author, WWII veteran and outspoken history/political science professor Zinn collects here almost three dozen brief, passionate essays that follow in the tradition of his landmark work, A People's History of the United States, taking up the cause of ordinary Americans fighting for social justice. Shunning conventional notions of American history, Zinn instead strives to decouple the country's history from its "mythology," in part by examining familiar contemporary concerns like class, race, civil liberties, immigration and the Iraq War. Indeed, this veteran's profound disillusionment with war suffuses the work, but a polemic against the Bush administration this is not; while Zinn scarcely shies from critiquing the governing elite, he prefers to focus on little-known or underappreciated historical episodes such as Revolutionary War soldiers driven to mutiny or 1999 World Trade Organization protestors in Seattle. He also revisits and reframes well-known events, including the Boston Massacre and the Holocaust, and invokes figures like union organizer Eugene Debs and Vietnam War protestor Philip Berrigan to point the way forward. Though his observations can be bleak, Zinn's belief that "history is powerful" and will "break down the credibility of the war makers" gives his book a great sense of hope. Readers seeking to break out of their ideological comfort zones will find much to ponder here.
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"Strong, incisive ... penetrating ... embraces the sweep of history." -- Jonathan Kozol, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Shame of The Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (December 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872864758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872864757
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was a historian, playwright, and activist. He wrote the classic A People's History of the United States, "a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those ... whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories" (Library Journal). The book, which has sold more than two million copies, has been featured on The Sopranos and Simpsons, and in the film Good Will Hunting. In 2009, History aired The People Speak, an acclaimed documentary co-directed by Zinn, based on A People's History and a companion volume, Voices of a People's History of the United States.

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 passion for history. After attending college under the GI Bill and earning a Ph.D. in history from Columbia, he taught at Spelman, where he became active in the civil rights movement. After being fired by Spelman for his support for student protesters, Zinn became a professor of Political Science at Boston University, were 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, the play Marx in Soho, and Passionate Declarations. He received the Lannan Foundation Literary Award for Nonfiction and the Eugene V. Debs award for his writing and political activism.

Photographer Photo Credit Name: Robert Birnbaum.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By J. Moser on February 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book of short essays frees Zinn from the strictures of conventional history writing. Of course, A People's History is anything but conventional in its approach, yet it stills follows a mostly chronological narrative of history. Here, Zinn's tone is much more engaging and personal. He talks about historical figures that inspire him--Eugene V. Debs and Phillip Berrigan, for example--and relates them to struggles going on today. He puts the Iraq War and the war on terror in context with other conflicts in our history, and he discusses his own war experiences in many of the essays. He also makes clear the role that the media and popular culture play in perpetuating myths of American exceptionalism and "good wars." Overall, though, one is inspired by Zinn's optimism and hope for the future, despite everything stacked against us. This is a brisk and compelling read. Zinn is a national treasure.
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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By L. F Sherman on February 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Zinn is usually well worth reading. His essays provide short clear opinions incorporating history well. History is not neutral, as he reminds us. Engaging his ideas should help sort out one's own more clearly whether close to his or not. You have to respect someone who is Jewish, a civil rights activist, a Bombardier during the war who has the intestinal fortitude to critique his own roots and experience.

The short essays range from World War II and the Holocaust Memorial to activism. None takes long to read, all are worth thinking about. Zinn remains something of an optimist despite our national malaise and dumbing down of debate today.

It is a pity that this and other valuable books are effectively `censored' out of circulation by the several national book store chains in Malls (Hurray for Amazon!) Thinking and debate suffer accordingly.

His "People's History of the United States" is a classic because of word of mouth reputation and can now be found widely. He edits a series that has been started including "Darker Peoples" focused on recent history of the "third world."
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Written by historian, playwright, and World War II veteran Howard Zinn, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress is a scathing attack against America's political and ethical failings, using examples of atrocities America perpetuated in history - from massacres in Vietnam to abuses of Chinese immigrant labor workers to complicity in the genocide of East Timor and much more - to add context to current ills such as the extended toll of the war in Iraq. "There is no certainty as to what would happen in our absence [in Iraq]. But there is absolute certainty about the result of our presence - escalating deaths on all sides." Zinn is firmly anti-death penalty and decries its usage as well. Of especial interest in A Power Governments Cannot Suppress is the author's denouncement of a disturbing tendency to compartmentalize the Holocaust, to forget the millions of non-Jews that were executed along with 6 million Jews, and worse, neglect the occurrence of modern acts of genocide thereby betraying the memory of victims of the Holocaust genocide. A strident call to action, speaking out against governmental and human misdeeds, and vociferously encouraging the reader to stand up and take action..
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By J. Gerber on December 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
If we don't know our history we are doomed to repeat it. In post 9/11 America, many have lost rights protected by the First Amendment. This is not a new feature in the United States. To prove his point Zinn takes the reader on a journey through moments in American history when people with opposing views suffered because of those views. He shines his unique light on important issues from the past and issues of importance now, such as the Iraq war. Zinn is appreciated for putting his words into print and challenging us all to create new ways to move towards a more just and peaceful world.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Ms.Beyonce on December 29, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Howard Zinn Professor Emeritus of Political Science, along with Noam Chomsky, are the two best political / historical writers on the Americian scene today. For a true picture of what American is really all about you could not find a better author than Professor Zinn. Mr. Zinn is an author of uncommon wisdom, insight and understanding.His thoughts on President Bush are alone worth the price of this gem. Highly Recommended.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Earlier today I reviewed The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America by Peter Dale Scott, and coined a new term of praise, "erudite patriot." That was one of many reviews from my long recent trip to the Middle East that I could finally post.

I would never have anticipated that in reading this book today, I would not only encounter a second "erudite patriot," but that my somewhat anxious decision to directly and repeatedly focus public attention on the high crimes and misdemeanors of Dick Cheney, would be so elegantly validated with a firm grounding in public resistance to tyranny and amorality.

The author, an eminent historian, is the people's historian. He alone has documented the many times in which public resistance brought odious government programs to a stop.

Although a collection of past essays, this book actually reads fast and well as a survey of the fundamentals empowered by historical example and accuracy. I was strongly reaffirmed in my beliefs by this book, reinforced in my relatively recent commitment to bringing Cheney to justice.

The author, unique qualified to do so, informs us that people have resisted before, that the osmosis of truth ultimate swings the public, and as the book title suggests, no government can resist an aroused public.

The author suggests, and I agree, that impeachment of Cheney first, is essential.
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