A Clear and Present Concern: The Radical "New History" of Howard Zinn

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Howard Zinn
Popular history
Radical history
Historical objectivity
Presentism in history
New history, progressive history

Howard Zinn, an academic, popular, and radical historian, political commentator, and author of the bestselling A People’s History of the United States, has been heavily criticized by those who claim that his history is distorted by his political agenda and thus lacks “objectivity” and “balance.” This study reveals that there is considerable justification for such claims, but also that the same criticisms can be applied with equal justice to the work of some of Zinn’s harshest critics. Zinn argued that genuine historical objectivity is neither possible nor desirable, and wrote history with an unabashedly partisan and “present-minded” approach. On the “objectivity question,” which has long been debated among academic historians, Zinn emulated the “new historians” of the early twentieth century. As a radical historian, he owed much to Karl Marx, but his thought is “Marxian” rather than “Marxist.” As a popular historian, he used literary sources and unapologetic moral and emotional appeals to further his radical agenda.Howard Zinn; popular history; radical history; historical objectivity; presentism in history; new history, progressive history

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Mark Leier
Allen Seager
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.