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You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A…

You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times (1994)

by Howard Zinn

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A Personal History of Our Times
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
This book is a memoir of Zinn's life as an activist. It traces his work in the civil rights era, his opposition to the Vietnam war, and battles fought during his professorship at Boston University. This was a very interesting account and insightful. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
A great bio of the great author/historian/activist, Howard Zinn. Gives people the back story and foundations for the beliefs he acquired and thankfully shared with the world. ( )
  Zissou54 | Apr 23, 2014 |
This is one of the most enjoyable of the Howard Zinn books that I've read. It's a personal account of his years of activism. Many of the stories are moving, especially those dealing with his years teaching at Howard College. It's a great portrait of a compassionate, passionate rebel. ( )
  Devil_llama | May 2, 2011 |
This is a primer on how to remain hopeful while toiling for justice during some of the most hopeless situations. Get moving. Be involved. These are the keys, according to Zinn. I couldn't put this book down once I picked it up. It was one of my top three for the year, one of my top ten of all time. ( )
  bookem | Mar 16, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0807071277, Paperback)

By any standards, Howard Zinn has led a remarkable life as teacher, writer, and social activist, a life in which those three categories are viewed not as compartmentalized tasks but as part of a unified identity. You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, a title taken from his advice to students about his take on American history and current events, is a powerful testament to that life.

It begins with his 1956 acceptance of a teaching post at Atlanta's Spelman College, a school for black women that would soon be caught up in the civil rights movement. Zinn, who had already been radicalized on the streets of Brooklyn as a teenager, got caught up along with his students (who included the future head of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, and author Alice Walker), and was kicked out in 1963 for "insubordination." He moved to Boston University, where he became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, and would prove a constant thorn in the side of university president John Silber throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Zinn writes in plain language that brooks no nonsense when it speaks of moral urgency, but he isn't above a sense of humor. Noting that the FBI was watching him constantly during the war era, he wryly observes that, "I have grown to depend on them for accurate reports on my speeches." Individual scenes leap out at the reader: Zinn's horror when he realized, years after WWII, that he had dropped napalm bombs on German troops; a meeting in a college classroom with the sister and parents of one of the victims of the Kent State massacre; Selma, Alabama, police beating blacks attempting to register to vote while federal agents stand by and do nothing. Through it all, Zinn writes, "I see this as the central issue of our time: how to find a substitute for war in human ingenuity, imagination, courage, sacrifice, patience." --Ron Hogan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States, tells his personal stories about more than thirty years of fighting for social change, from teaching at Spelman College to recent protests against war. A former bombardier in WWII, Zinn emerged in the civil rights movement as a powerful voice for justice. Although he's a fierce critic, he gives us reason to hope that by learning from history and engaging politically, we can make a difference in the world.--From publisher description.… (more)

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Beacon Press

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