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Howard Zinn, American Jewish Historian, Dies at 87

Howard Zinn, an American Jewish historian who wrote the “People’s History of the United States,” has died.

Zinn, whose best-seller helped establish him as a central figure of the American left, died of a heart attack Wednesday in California. He was 87.

Along with another Boston-based American Jewish professor, Noam Chomsky, Zinn was a leading left-wing intellectual. His “People’s History,” published in 1980, accused Christopher Columbus of genocide while venerating labor leaders and war opponents.

“He’s made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” Chomsky said, according to the Boston Globe. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can’t think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect.”

“People’s History” inspired a documentary in 2009 on the History Channel titled “The People Speak.” Zinn narrated the documentary, which highlighted those who spoke up for social change.

Zinn, a New York City native and the son of Jewish immigrants, wrote several books and three plays. His last essay, about President Obama’s first year in office, was published last week in The Nation.

He flew missions throughout Europe during World War II.

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