25 Howard Zinn Books to Add to Your List

Howard Zinn is a historian, philosopher, and World War II veteran. He was also an author with more than two dozen books.

He focused most of his writing on US history, war, and political events throughout history. His books are a great read for anyone looking to learn more about the civil rights movement, anti-war sentiment, and the history of the labor force in the US. 

Books by Howard Zinn

1. SNCC: The New Abolitionists

SNCC: The New Abolitionists

Published: 1985

Pages: 312

In this book, Howard Zinn tells the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) story, from its beginnings in the early 1960s to its decline in the late 1970s. SNCC was one of the most important civil rights organizations of its time, and Zinn's account provides a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of this influential group.

In addition to chronicling SNCC's successes and failures, Zinn also offers a unique perspective on the role of activism in American society. If you're interested in learning more about this pivotal period in history or simply want to read an engaging nonfiction book. It will give you many insights into how and why SNCC was so important in the movement for equality.

2. Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal

Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal

Published: 1967

Pages: 131

The Vietnam War is one of the most controversial wars in American history. Many people believe that the United States should have never gotten involved in the war, while others think we should have continued fighting until we won. In his book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, Howard Zinn takes a different perspective on the war. He argues that the United States should have withdrawn from Vietnam as soon as it was clear that we would not win.

This argument is based on the idea that it is morally wrong for a country to get involved in a war if it does not win. It also includes a speech written by Zinn that was supposed to be part of President Johnson's ending the war. If it had been spoken, the history of this war would have been entirely different and much less deadly to all people.

>> More books about the Vietnam War

3. Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies on Law and Order

Disobedience and Democracy

Published: 1968

Pages: 124

In this quick read, Howard Zinn argues that civil disobedience is a necessary tool for democracy. He identifies nine fallacies on law and order that can undermine democracy. Some of these include the belief that law and order are more important than individual rights, the idea that violence is an acceptable means of enforcing the law, and the belief that the government always acts in the best interest of its citizens.

Zinn's essay is a timely reminder of how fragile democracy can be and why it's important to uphold our civic duty to disobey unjust laws.

4. The Politics of History

The Politics of History

Published: 1970

pages: 408

When Zinn originally published this book, he made a bold statement about how history is written. He argued that the interests of those in power always shape the official accounts of history and that it is essential for ordinary people to have their voices heard. In this book, Zinn provides a different perspective on American history, telling the stories of ordinary people who traditional historians have overlooked.

For Zinn, history is not simply a collection of facts and dates; it is a tool that can be used to promote social change and justice. This makes "The Politics of History" a critical read for anyone interested in understanding America's past and present.

5. Justice in Everyday Life: The Way It Really Works

Justice in Everyday Life

Published: 1974

Pages: 392

What does justice really mean? How do we achieve it in our everyday lives? These are the questions that acclaimed historian Howard Zinn tackles in his latest book, "Justice in Everyday Life." Drawing on examples from history and personal experience, Zinn offers a fascinating look at how justice works - or doesn't work - in society.

Even though published long ago, this book is still entirely relevant in today's world. Examples include how the police often focus on the poor or people of color because of the inherent bias in our justice system. Whether you're looking for ways to make your community more just or simply want to understand the concept better, this book is a must-read.

6. A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present

A People's History of the United States

Published: 1980 (with updates through to 2010)

Pages: 702

Without question, this is the book that made Howard Zinn the highly respected historian that he continued to be throughout his life. If you're looking for a comprehensive and eye-opening history of the United States, look no further than Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

Starting with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and continuing up to 2010, Zinn chronicled American history from the perspective of those who have traditionally been left out of textbooks - namely, women, minorities, and the poor.

This approach provides a much more accurate and nuanced view of our country's past and is sure to spark discussion and debate about our present and into our future. If you are looking to find a history book that delves deep into the lesser-known and often ignored part of society, this will be a great primer.

>> More about the American Revolution

>> Great reads about social justice in the US

7. Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology

Declarations of Independence

Published: October 23rd, 1991

Pages: 341

What does it mean to be an American? Throughout history, this question has been asked, and the answer is constantly evolving. In this book, Howard Zinn provides a unique perspective on what it means to be an American. Through cross-examination of important historical documents, Zinn reveals the overlooked voices of America's past.

Whether you agree or disagree with his arguments, Zinn's book offers a fresh and thought-provoking perspective on American identity. By exploring the contradictions and complexities of American history, Zinn encourages readers to examine America's values and ideals critically. The questions of how slavery was accepted, native peoples were slaughtered to make way for Europeans, and more are explored in it.

8. A People's History of the United States: The Civil War to the Present

A People's History of the United States

Published: August 1st, 2003

pages: 496

The American people are a patriotic bunch. They love their country, and they are proud of its history. But what most Americans don't know is that their country's history is not all glory and victory. There is another side to the story, which is often left out of textbooks and watered down in classrooms. That side is the story of the people, the ordinary people who have made up America throughout its history.

In his book, A People's History of the United States: The Civil War to the Present, Howard Zinn tells the story of America from the perspective of those people who have been forgotten or ignored by traditional histories. It is a powerful and moving account that paints a different picture of America than we are taught in school.

NOTE: This is often used in school settings. Therefore, it has teaching material included, which will allow you to dig deeper into what it means to be a citizen of the U.S.A.

>> More books about the Civil War

9. Failure to Quit: Reflections of an Optimistic Historian

Published: 1999

Pages: 192

Few people can attest to the power of hope quite like Howard Zinn. A noted historian and social activist, Zinn has dedicated his life to fighting for the underprivileged and oppressed. In this book, Failure to Quit: Reflections of an Optimistic Historian he discusses the importance of never giving up in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Despite all the heartache and pain, we experience in life. Drawing on personal stories and examples from history, Zinn provides a powerful argument for perseverance in the face of adversity. He reminds us that "it is always better to be alive than dead, to be hopeful than despairing." This inspirational message will inspire readers to keep fighting no matter what challenges they face.

10. You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Published: September 1st, 1994

Pages: 214

As an American historian, writer, and social activist, Howard Zinn's work has always been focused on the idea of creating a more equitable society. In You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Zinn expands on this idea by exploring how neutrality is not only impossible but also undesirable in the face of ongoing injustice.

Drawing on examples from history and his personal experiences as a participant in social movements, Zinn argues that it is essential for individuals to take a stand and fight for what they believe in. He maintains that if we do not act, the status quo will continue to perpetuate inequality and oppression. This powerful and timely book will provoke thought and discussion among readers everywhere.

11. The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy

The Zinn Reader

Published: September 9th, 1997

Pages: 672

This book is a compilation of the author's work starting in the 1950s and ending in the early 2000s before Zinn died. The book is divided into different categories so you can get a natural feel for his way of thinking and how words should be put into action.

It includes essays, speeches, articles, interviews, and reviews covering topics such as war, history, civil disobedience, race relations, class struggle, democracy, education reform, and other pertinent issues of the past and present. The breadth of content covered in it makes it an essential read for anyone interested in learning about social justice issues from one of America's most influential thinkers.

12. Howard Zinn on War

Howard Zinn on War

Published: 2000

Pages: 272

Most people don't know that Howard Zinn was a bombardier in World War II, so he saw a war in real life and didn't just make offhand comments. He also lived through some of the most tumultuous times in the history of the U.S.A. regarding equality, civil rights, and the fight against imperialism. While many people view war as a necessary evil, Howard Zinn takes a different perspective. The author presents a series of essays questioning American involvement in military conflicts throughout history.

Zinn provides historical evidence to support his argument that war is ineffective and causes more harm than good. His points about war being useless and counterproductive and proven correct, and the choice is if we are to change and become better as a people and a country. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the implications of war.

>> Books about World War II

13. Howard Zinn on History

Howard Zinn on History

Published: December 5th, 2000

Pages: 240

Howard Zinn once said, "There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." This quote highlights the importance of history - it can teach us about our past mistakes so that we can learn from them and avoid making them again in the future. Zinn provides a unique perspective on history that is often overlooked. Through his essays and speeches, Zinn paints a complete picture of history that includes the views of those who have been traditionally left out of the narrative.

The book provides a unique perspective on history and its impact on the world. In it, Zinn reflects on different aspects of history, ranging from his personal experiences as a bombardier in World War II to the role of history in society. It is an excellent read for anyone interested in learning more about how history shapes our present day.

14. Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century

Three Strikes

Published: September 3rd, 2001

Pages: 174

This book is a bit different from the others as not only does Howard Zinn write an essay in it, but there are two other authors, Dana Frank and Robin D. G. Kelly. All three look at a different event through their own eyes, but all relate to the ordinary person's power to fight the people in power. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

Zinn explored the Ludlow Massacre of 1914 when 1,200 coal miners were striking, and the government called in the Colorado National Guard and private guards to break it. On April 20th, more than twenty people were killed, including women and children. This led to a federal investigation which worked toward helping build consensus for the eight-hour workday and child labor laws.

Dan Frank writes about the "counter girls" sit-in at a Woolworth in Detroit, and Kelley writes about a strike of New York movie theater musicians.

15. Terrorism and War

Terrorism and War

Published: March 5th, 2002

Pages: 160

As we've seen so far, truth is almost always the first casualty when war or power is concerned. According to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, civil liberties and the freedom that we are supposed to have are quickly taken away. And because of this people die and countries can be ruined. This includes the U.S.A. and so many others that we have tried to occupy since the beginning of the immigrants from Europe.

In this book, Zinn looks at how this happened here and how it has been fought by protestors who often give up their freedom, or their own lives, to help keep everyone else safe. When you look at how people who try to be whistleblowers on the illegal activities of our government or how people in power (and sometimes just the average citizen) overlook torture by our military, it makes this an even more critical read at the present time.

16. Artists in Times of War

Artists in Times of War

Published: September 2nd, 2003

Pages: 112

In this short read, Zinn asks all of us, “What is an artist's role when their country is at war?” As we know, this is a question that has been asked throughout history and one that Howard Zinn attempts to answer here. Zinn looks at various examples of artists who lived during wartime, both in the United States and abroad, examining how they reacted to the conflict.

Zinn believes that through painting, music, writing, or any other form of expression, that artists have the power to make a difference and also need to speak out. He argues that artists have a unique perspective on war and can play an essential role in helping society understand what is happening. Some of the people quoted in his essays include disparate artists such a Mark Twain, Thomas Paine, Emma Goldman, and Bob Dylan.

17. Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice

Passionate Declarations

Published: June 17th, 2003

Pages: 368

As an activist and historian, Howard Zinn's work has always been guided by a passion for justice. His essays on war and justice offer a unique perspective on some of the most critical issues of our time. Drawing on personal experiences and historical examples, Zinn provides thoughtful insights on topics such as imperialism, civil rights, and the role of dissent in society.

He also delves into how using education can relieve many people thinking that war will solve problems. His points are incredibly relevant, especially in times like these, with our public education system under attack.

This powerful collection of his essays is both timeless and relevant, providing readers with a unique look at critical issues from one of America's most influential voices.

18. The People Speak: American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known: Dramatic Readings Celebrating the Enduring Spirit of Dissent

The People Speak

Published: March 2nd, 2004

pages: 82

In The People Speak: American Voices, Howard Zinn presents a collection of essays, letters, speeches, and other writings from everyday Americans throughout history. The voices range from famous historical figures like Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln to lesser-known individuals such as a Native American woman speaking out against the displacement of her people and an immigrant describing his journey to America.

This powerful compilation offers a unique glimpse into the thoughts and experiences of average Americans throughout history. Instead of just being a collection of essays by others, Zinn adds his own points and opinions on the essays and articles written by others in this book. The wonderful part of this book is that you may just recognize your voice being spoken here through the writings of someone else.

>> Books by and about Frederick Douglass

>> More books about Native Americans

19. A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

Published: December 1st, 2006

Pages: 293

We all have an innate desire for freedom. It is a fundamental human quality that cannot be suppressed, no matter how powerful the government is. This is definitively proven in this book as he highlights the many cases throughout history in which people have revolted against their rulers and won. These essays span the times starting with the Declaration of Independence up until today and our failures in giving the government too much power and our loss of liberties.

These individuals refused to give up their freedom and fought until they finally achieved victory despite the odds. This is a testament to the power of the human spirit and its ability to overcome even the most significant obstacles. So, if you're feeling oppressed by your government, never give up hope – there is always a chance of success. History has shown us that freedom can never be suppressed for long.

20. Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics

Original Zinn

Published: 1990

Pages: 192

This book is also a good primer on Zinn's worldview if you want an excellent place to start. It is a collection of interviews of Howard Zinn by David Barsamian. This book is full of engaging conversations on various topics, all related to the world of politics and history. You'll learn about everything from the Vietnam War to the role of protest in society, making it perfect for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge on these essential subjects.

Plus, with chapters that can be read independently, "Original Zinn" is ideal for busy readers who don't have time for a long reading commitment. So, if you're curious about what makes history tick, pick up a copy of this book today!

21. A People's History of American Empire

A People's History of American Empire

Published: 2008

Pages: 288

A People's History of American Empire is a critical examination of the United States from the perspective of those who have been traditionally excluded from mainstream historical narratives. Zinn argues that official history is filled with omissions and distortions. He provides a more accurate account of events by drawing on testimony from ordinary people and documents such as letters, speeches, and court records.

This book offers an illuminating look at America's past. It encourages readers to question conventional wisdom and think critically about history and its impact on our present-day world.

NOTE: This is a graphic novel, so it is entertaining to be educated while being entertained by words and artistry.

22. The Bomb

The Bomb

Published: August 1st, 2010

Pages: 100

The Bomb is a short but graphic and powerful history of the atomic bomb. It is a must-read for anyone interested in learning about the development and use of this devastating weapon. It also looks at his own service as a Bombardier in WW II and the destruction of the city of Royan, France, by carpet bombing.

Zinn provides a comprehensive overview of the politics and scientific progress that led to the atomic bomb's creation and offers insightful analysis on its impact on world events. Some of the interesting conclusions that he comes to are ones such as the reason we dropped the bombs on Japan was not to end the war, but to show Russia that we have the capability, and the willingness, to use them if they tried to attack us.

The photos in it are brutal, and you will not forget them. Which, of course, is precisely what Zinn would want so you remember what happens to civilians during the war. It isn't pretty.

>> More books about the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project

23. The Historic Unfulfilled Promise

The Historic Unfulfilled Promise

Published: June 12th, 2012

pages: 256

One of the last books published before he died, Zinn takes dozens of articles that he had written for The Progressive over a three-decade period. They include articles about the type of country that the United States of America should strive to be. This includes how our citizens should react when our leaders talk about going to war and how the poor and people of color have been systematically beaten down by our imperialism at home and abroad.

As always, he does not mince words, and even though considered a liberal or left-winger, he takes Obama's presidency to task and looks at the failures of our political system no matter who is leading it. It is a powerful look back through Zinn's incredible life and influence, not only in writing about history but in making it himself.

24. Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches 1963-2009

Howard Zinn Speaks

Published: November 27th, 2012

Pages: 320

It's not often that one can get an inside glimpse into the mind of a progressive activist, philosopher, and historian like Howard Zinn. But his new book, Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches 1963-2009, provides just that. Spanning over 40 years, the book offers readers a unique opportunity to hear directly from one of America's most influential voices for change.

The speeches collected in this volume offer valuable insights into the thoughts and beliefs of this renowned author and teacher. Zinn discusses topics such as war, history, democracy, and activism. Some of the specific subjects include the Vietnam War, the case of Sacco and Vanzetti, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Shay's Rebellion, and others that you will not have read elsewhere. It is essential reading for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of U.S. history and the ongoing fight for social justice.

25. Truth Has a Power of Its Own: Conversations about A People's History

Truth Has a Power of Its Own

Published: September 3rd, 2019

Pages: 256

The last of the books on our list is a collection of interviews with the incredibly well-respected NPR reporter Ray Suarez. The subjects of these interviews are wide-ranging and informative. Some include the colonialism of the U.S.A. The destruction of the Native peoples. Others are how women and people of color were treated as second-class citizens in this country and the War on Terror that continues even past Howard Zinn's death in 2010.

Because Suarez was such a fantastic newscaster, and Zinn trusted him so much, the questions are intense, and the answers are thorough and insightful. Zinn always does his best to explain and use facts and evidence to prove his points. As they move from topic to topic, the interaction between the two is lovely and elegant. It is a perfect way to say goodbye to this magnificent historian since you will feel as if you can hear him speak even though it is only through the written words.