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

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

Written by Howard Zinn

Narrated by David Strathairn


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

Written by Howard Zinn

Narrated by David Strathairn

ratings:
4.5/5 (24 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 28, 2017
ISBN:
9781494586591
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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 World War II, 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.
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 28, 2017
ISBN:
9781494586591
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Howard Zinn (1922–2010) was a historian, playwright, and social activist. In addition to A People’s History of the United States, which has sold more than two million copies, he is the author of numerous books including The People Speak, Passionate Declarations, and the autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.



Reviews

What people think about You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

4.6
24 ratings / 8 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Just a wonderful look at a singular, world-changing life. Mr.Zinn's words give hope to the hopeless in these dark times. We need his humanity now more than ever.
  • (4/5)
    Although I own a copy of Zinn's major work, A People's History of the United States, I confess I have not read it. It is not a slim volume, and I find it easy to postpone, sometimes all but permanently, the reading commitment to such fat tomes.But having read Zinn's autobiography, I may have to rethink my laziness. His commitment to all the right causes, and the justification for translating those beliefs into a lifetime of action, is a timely lesson given today's Trumpian abuse of power built upon shrill demonization of minorities and the poor. He remarks that ours is a "long, slow struggle, not for equality (that phrase suggests completion), but toward equality." And so here we are today, refighting battles that should have ended a generation ago -- removing Confederate statutes that honor the fight to maintain slavery, demanding that police be punished for their street executions of unarmed black men. The choice that Zinn presents is how we will respond, what role will we play in these, the challenges of our time.
  • (4/5)
    This is a fine reprint of Howard Zinn’s memoir published in 1994. The book explains Zinn’s life of teaching and activism in the clear and engaging prose for which he is known. While this reprint has a new introduction by Professor Keeanga-Tamahtta Taylor of Princeton, I felt that it did not add much to the book.
  • (5/5)
    I didn’t know much about Howard Zinn going into this book, other than he wrote The People’s History of the United States (which has been sitting on my shelves, unread, for years) and that his political views, like mine, are left of center, and by a fair amount.So it was quite a surprise to read this extremely interesting, quick-moving, and most of all, inspiring, autobiography. Written in 2002, eight years before his death, Zinn uses 15 chapters to tell stories of his life - from growing up poor during the depression to hard-working parents, to teaching at a historically black college and helping students find their voices in the culture rights movement, to protesting the Vietnam war and his time as a bombardier in World War II and how it shaped his future views on war. Any one of these topics could make for a good book - that Zinn covers them all rather concisely and as part of an overall background to a life of civil disobedience makes for a great, compelling book.After the 2016 presidential elections and the changes which followed, many on the left became discouraged and even somewhat depressed. This is the book those people - print company included - needed to read. As gripping of an autobiography this is, the bigger takeaway and a point that Zinn drives home repeatedly is that in even against tremendous odds, it is important to stand for what you believe in and protest as needed. In fact, failed attempts at resistance are important to bring likeminded individuals together and to further strengthen their beliefs. It tells the reader that standing up for what’s right is important and that individual voices are important, as eventually those voices form a group and that group can institute major change. I started the book thinking I was glad Zinn wasn’t around to see our current political environment, but finished wishing he was. He would have been thrilled to see Black Lives Matter, Indivisible, Action for a Better Tomorrow and the #MeToo movement. This book is a great starting point for those who are upset about the world, are unsure if their voice will make a difference and have no idea where to start.
  • (4/5)
    I received an advanced review copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.  This book serves as an autobiography of the historian and activist Howard Zinn, and intersects with America's history of inequality and imperialism, as well as the work of activists towards justice and equality.  Zinn grew up poor in Brooklyn and worked at the Brooklyn Naval Yard where he formed bonds with the other laborers.  He signed up with the Army Air Force during World War II in order to fight fascism, but was also exposed to segregation in the armed forces and participated in a napalm bombing raid in France that he felt was more of a show of American military might than a strategical necessity. Zinn began his academic career at Spellman College in Atlanta in 1956 where he served as a mentor to Alice Walker and Marian Wright Edelman.  He also became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, serving as an adviser to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  Zinn was fired for insubordination in 1963, and accepted a professorship at Boston University in 1964.  Zinn's arrival BU coincided with the movement against the war in Vietnam of which he became an active leader.  Zinn's courses were extremely popular but he also had to contend with prickly and conservative BU president, John Silber.Despite the dominance of inequality and opression in the world, Zinn remains optomistic.  He sees the changes made in people in the various movements as a net positive.  He notes that while tyranny is a danger in a short term it also will be defeated by the people in the long term.  
  • (3/5)
    Its interesting to read this book in 2018, almost 25 years after the original publication date. In many ways, things are much better - gay marriage is the law of the land, marijuana is slowly becoming legalized and elected officials are becoming more and more diverse. In many other ways, the struggle remains the same and very little seems to have changed. I enjoyed reading about Zinn's reactions and commentaries on the major events in his life that shaped his thinking. There is a very strong colloquial style throughout this book, as if it was your uncle or grandfather telling you these stories. Zinn's reactions to events can often be easily predicted however there is this sense of hope and optimism that really drives the message of the possibility of improving life in the United States.