Howard Zinn Dies

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as "A People's History of the United States," inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.

His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.

Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) was an American historian, author, left-wing activist, playwright, intellectual and Professor of Political Science at Boston University from 1964 to 1988. He wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States. Zinn wrote extensively about the civil rights, civil liberties and anti-war movements. His memoir, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn's life and work.

Zinn was swimming in a hotel pool when he died of an apparent heart attack in Santa Monica, California on January 27, 2010. He had been scheduled to speak at the Santa Monica Museum of Art for an event titled "A Collection of Ideas... the People Speak."

In one of his last interviews he said he'd like to be remembered "for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality," and "for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it. Black people in the South used it. People in the women's movement used it. People in the anti-war movement used it. People in other countries who have overthrown tyrannies have used it."

He said he wanted to be known as "somebody who gave people a feeling of hope and power that they didn't have before."

Zinn is survived by his daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn, son Jeff Zinn and five grandchildren.

Howard Zinn, historian and shipyard worker, civil rights activist and World War II bombardier, and author of “A People’s History of the United States,” a best seller that inspired a generation of high school and college students to rethink American history, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87 and lived in Auburndale, Mass.

The cause was a heart attack he had while swimming, his family said.