Howard Zinn changed the way we think about our history. The author of the revolutionary “A People’s History of the United States” died of a heart attack Wednesday in Santa Monica. He was an inspiration to us all.

Zinn was a fierce thinker, speaker and activist who led a fascinating life. Take this early episode, recounted by the Associated Press: “War continued his education. Eager to help wipe out the Nazis, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 and even persuaded the local draft board to let him mail his own induction notice. He flew missions throughout Europe, receiving an Air Medal, but he found himself questioning what it all meant. Back home, he gathered his medals and papers, put them in a folder and wrote on top: ‘Never again.’ “

He was fired by a Southern black women’s college for being too pro-civil rights and resented by the Kennedy administration. He was intellectually consistent and consistently tough. One of his final works was published just recently — an attack on the Obama administration.

More of Zinn’s AP obituary here.

A more fitting tribute by a Truthdig contributor can be found here. — PZS

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