Listening to Howard Zinn

Princeton historian Julian Zelizer joined us at the end of Thursday’s second hour for a look back at Howard Zinn, the groundbreaking American historian, activist, and author of “A People’s History of the United States.” Zinn died of a heart attack Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 87.

Zinn had twice been a guest on the show. In 2002, he discussed the war on terror in its early days. Zinn argued that in order to truly fight terrorism, the United States would have to drastically alter its foreign policy and posture in the world.

In 2006, as war raged on in Iraq, Zinn joined us to discuss the futility of war. Looking at America’s wars since World War II, he argued that war no longer works.


Our colleagues in the WBUR News department pulled together some excerpts from Howard Zinn’s several appearances on WBUR over the years, including these clips from the On Point interviews:

Listen: Zinn On The Justification Of War

Are freedom and democracy worthy things to fight for? Oh, yes. But I don’t believe that when you bomb a country like Afghanistan with a vague notion that you might be doing something about terrorism, that you might be rooting out terrorists and in the process you end up killing a lot of innocent people, I don’t believe you’re advancing the cause of freedom and democracy, at all. In fact, I think you are probably endangering freedom and democracy. — Zinn on On Point, June 17, 2002

Listen: Zinn On Post – 9/11 National Security

The question is whether the wars that we have fought have increased or decreased our security. And I’m arguing that the wars we have fought have not increased our security. In what way did the war in Vietnam, with all that tremendous toll of human life, increase the security of the United States? I would argue the opposite, that the security of the United States is at its lowest point… You can tell that by the alarms and the security measures and the warnings and by orange signals. — Zinn on On Point, Sept. 8, 2006

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