Howard Zinn

A Life on the Left

From the award-winning historian and activist Martin Duberman, a sweeping political biography of Howard Zinn, “the people’s historian” who himself made history, changing forever how we think about our past

“[Howard Zinn] changed the consciousness of a generation.” —Noam Chomsky

Howard Zinn was perhaps the best-known and most widely celebrated popular interpreter of American history in the twentieth century, renowned as a bestselling author, a political activist, a lecturer, and one of America’s most recognizable and admired progressive voices.

His rich, complicated, and fascinating life placed Zinn at the heart of the signal events of modern American history—from the battlefields of World War II to the McCarthy era, the civil rights and the antiwar movements, and beyond. A bombardier who later renounced war, a son of working-class parents who earned a doctorate at Columbia, a white professor who taught at the historically black Spelman College in Atlanta, a committed scholar who will be forever remembered as a devoted “people’s historian,” Howard Zinn blazed a bold, iconoclastic path through the turbulent second half of the twentieth century.

For the millions who were moved by Zinn’s personal example of political engagement and by his inspiring “bottom up” history, here is an authoritative biography of this towering figure—by Martin Duberman, recipient of the American Historical Association’s 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award. Given exclusive access to the previously closed Zinn archives, Duberman’s impeccably researched biography is illustrated with never-before-published photos from the Zinn family collection. Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left is a major publishing event that brings to life one of the most inspiring figures of our time.



“Owing to Duberman’s own passionate commitment to social justice and his exclusive access to Zinn’s papers, his authoritative biography brings Zinn’s colorful voice back to life.”
ForeWord Reviews
“This intelligent book reminds us of the titanic moral struggles in American history and those who engaged with them.”
The Washington Post
“Martin Duberman has written a fine biography. He brings us the extraordinary life of Howard Zinn, in an account that is well-informed and empathetic, sometimes gently critical, but always aware of the driving passion for direct action in the cause of social justice that was the core of Howard Zinn’s being. ”
—Frances Fox Piven
“When Howard Zinn died I hoped that someone would document the extraordinary life of this extremely kind and brave man—but I never dreamed that it would be done by someone with the craft and vision of Martin Duberman. This book is destined to be a classic of twentieth-century history.”
—Mark Kurlansky, author of Nonviolence and 1968
“If you’re a fan of Howard Zinn . . . you’ll want to pick up this excellent biography.”
The Progressive
“Biography at its best, written by a master of the craft and a man who has lived the activist life and combined that with serious scholarship and innovative teaching.”
—Michael Kammen, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Imagine! The best of Howard Zinn and Martin Duberman between two covers. Everyone interested in A People’s History and a future of justice and hope will benefit from Martin Duberman’s insightful, vividly written, splendid biography. Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left is profoundly moving and perfectly timed as we regroup and reconsider our world’s needs.”
—Blanche Wiesen Cook, University Distinguished Professor at John Jay College and The Graduate Center, CUNY, and author of Eleanor Roosevelt
“Howard Zinn was one of the truly great figures of twentieth-century American radicalism—an academic who shocked much of the academy by giving us a ‘people’s history’ of our own country. We are fortunate that the author of this biography is Martin Duberman, himself an activist as well as an academic, who brings his passion to these pages.”
—David McReynolds
“Martin Duberman’s masterful biography promises to bring the story of Howard’s life and work to new generations of readers.”
—Paul Buhle, editor of A People’s History of American Empire
“A masterful biography. . . . With his typically meticulous research, Martin Duberman has ferreted out the facts and given us a complete picture, warts and all.”
—Doug Ireland

News and Reviews

The American Bar Association has awarded Nell Bernstein’s Burning Down the Hous

Hold Tight Gently honored by the American Library Association

Award-winning author Martin Duberman’s Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and th

Books by Martin Duberman

Hold Tight Gently
Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS

Martin Duberman

Radical Acts
Collected Political Plays

Martin Duberman

A Saving Remnant
The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds

Martin Duberman

Andrea Dworkin
The Feminist as Revolutionary

Martin Duberman

Goodreads Reviews