The America That Howard Zinn Made

The radical historian had an unequaled impact on our country’s post-patriotic narrative.

Some are still in college. Others are older, at the zeniths of their careers. Two generations have come of age saturated by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and its disdain for legacy America. Having sold an estimated three million copies since 1980, Zinn’s book is the nation’s best known American history. The fifth and final edition (2003) ends with the World Trade Center attacks and the war on terrorism.

A volume that began as a New Left hatchet job has become canonical. First popular with the general public, not historians, it has gradually turned into a cardinal source for academics, book editors, and film producers. Zinn’s view of U.S. history permeates what students learn about the country’s past from grade school to grad school.