Episode #48: Debunking Howard Zinn with Mary Grabar

Episode #48

Peter Wood

A People’s History of the United States is easily one of the most common and popular history books in America, why? What makes this revisionist history so appealing?

In this episode, Mary Grabar sits joins Peter W. Wood to discuss her recent book, Debunking Howard Zinn. Throughout Mary points out the revisionist and factually inaccurate telling of American history that Howard Zinn puts forward. They also discuss his many personal motivations for pushing revisionist history.

Show Notes

0:24 Peter Wood introduces Mary Grabar and her new book, Debunking Howard Zinn.

2:42 Mary’s op-eds caused her trouble with early teaching positions, but her writing helped introduce her to Mark Bauerlein and Bob Paquette.

7:40 Is Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History, one of the most influential books in America? Mary argues that it absolutely is: Zinn has a rather large grassroots organization, the Zinn Educational Project, that disseminates his book, writings, and sets up events around the nation.

10:24 Who was Howard Zinn and how did he develop the personality-cult associated with him today?

19:42 Mary explains that Zinn was able to take advantage of the changing field of scholarship during the 1960’s to combine scholarship and activism. This allowed Zinn to advance a revisionist history of the United States. His work was heavily drafted (Mary says “plagiarized”) from Gary B. Nash’s earlier book, Red, White, and Black.

26:06 What should students be learning about Christopher Columbus and how does Zinn present them in A People’s History?

34:28 Peter wonder aloud: Zinn’s history of the United States, and the feelings it incites, sounds like another more recent work, the New York Times’ 1619 Project, is it Zinn inspired?

35:37 Zinn presents the Civil War as a struggle for empire, not emancipation.

38:15 Democracy = Equal distribution of wealth according to Zinn.

41:17 Vietnam is a story of democracy vs. imperialism according to Zinn. Mary explains that he conveniently avoids discussing the humanitarian crisis following the conclusion of the Vietnam war, with no mention of the “boat people” or other refugees fleeing Ho Chi Minh’s rule, not to mention the mass exodus of Vietnamese to the south in the months after partition.

48:14 Some of Peter’s extended family discover Howard Zinn in their teens and came to the conclusion that their teachers had been lying to them all along. What makes Zinn so appealing?

51:29 Mary asserts that Zinn plagiarized. Whose words did he steal and why?

56:05 Mitch Daniels, former Governor of Indiana, inquired whether A People’s History was being taught in any Indiana schools, is this censorship?


Grabar, Mary. Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America. Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2019.

Wood, Peter. “America is Hopelessly Racist.” Minding the Campus, September 9, 2019.

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. New York, NY: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reissue edition, 2015.

Image: By Jared and Corin - Howard Zinn, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4277318

  • Share

Most Commented

May 18, 2023


Letter: In Defense of Professor Scott Gerber

The Ohio Northern University’s senior administrators have treated Professor Scott Gerber appallingly by removing him from campus without due cause—a clear abuse of......

May 9, 2023


More Title IX Mischief

The Biden Education Department's Office for Civil Rights proposes a new rule on athletic eligibility favoring sexual confusion over female athletes....

May 23, 2023


Academic Freedom Isn’t Free

If higher education cannot hold itself to its founding principles, then we must....

Most Read

April 7, 2023


Congress Asks Dept of Education to Enforce Foreign Gift Disclosure Laws

The National Association of Scholars strongly endorses the Representatives' work to open the books on higher education's concealed dealings with the foreign despots who see......

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

April 14, 2023


Faculty Fight for Academic Freedom at Harvard

While many faculty quietly endorse views they privately disagree with, Harvard faculty band together to resist administrative overreach, overzealous students, and protect academic freedom....