Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation Against America, by Mary Grabar (Regnery; 327 pp., $29.99). Mary Grabar has performed an invaluable service by taking the time to dissect Howard Zinn’s polemical attack on America, A People’s History of the United States (1980). Although she doesn’t cover every topic Zinn addresses, she thoroughly discusses the ones of greatest significance. Throughout her book she provides clear evidence that Zinn’s history misrepresented historical events by omitting vital information.

I was well familiar with Zinn’s historical misrepresentations and omissions long before Graber’s work, but didn’t know much about Zinn himself. I was so accustomed to leftist professors in academe I simply accepted Zinn as another one and dealt only with what he said in A People’s History. Graber makes clear Zinn wasn’t merely to the left, but a Marxist whose goal was to produce not history, but propaganda to convert a generation of American college students.

While Zinn denied being a member of the Communist Party, there are former members who have stated Zinn was a Communist and a regular at party meetings. Moreover, there is no question about his membership in several Communist front organizations and his participation in Communist-inspired demonstrations.

Zinn’s first full-time teaching position was at Atlanta’s Spelman College, then a Christian school for black females only. From day one, Zinn was on a mission to radicalize his students and to have them participate in protests and demonstrations. After several years of radical activism at Spelman, he was fired. A couple of years later, he was hired by Boston University and, despite some objections, received tenure in 1967. He was the right professor at the right time. Demonstrations against the Vietnam War were at a peak and he was in the thick of them. He was a compelling and charismatic lecturer and political activist, and developed a large student following.

When the Vietnam War faded and the draft was ended, Zinn was on to new issues—support of imprisoned Black Panthers, divestiture from companies doing business with South Africa, and promoting opposition to Boston University’s President John Silber, who was trying to restore academic standards and integrity. Zinn also co-founded the New Party, the socialist coalition that would later help Barack Obama win an Illinois Senate seat.

Although I taught mostly upper-division courses, early in my career I often taught the U.S. History survey course. The textbook I found the most useful and readable for the course was Samuel Eliot Morison’s The Oxford History of the American People. When Zinn’s work appeared in 1980, I added it as a second textbook to give students a very different perspective, not only from Morison, but also from me.

I initially thought of A People’s History as something akin to Oliver Cromwell’s famous dictum to paint his portrait “warts and all,” though Zinn focused on warts only. However, as time went by and I investigated the secondary sources Zinn based his book on, I came to see his presentation of the warts was distorted and unfair. He couldn’t even be honest about that. Grabar does an excellent job of revealing all this in a book I hope finds a wide readership.

(Roger D. McGrath)


Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age, by Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Diane Montagna (Angelico Press; 338 pp., $30.00). How are the Vatican’s Amazon Synod, a board meeting of GlaxoSmithKline, and a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee different? Answer: Only Glaxo- SmithKline will disclose that its products may cause suicidal thoughts, heart attacks, and strokes. I’ve often joked that “Big Church” is nothing other than “Big Pharma” and “Big Government” and, observing the proceedings of each, one would be hard pressed to see appreciable differences. This seems also to be the opinion of Bishop Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, whose insights in this book on the state of the Church since the Second Vatican Council are refreshingly candid, intellectually satisfying, and scalpel-like in their precision. At the heart of the crisis is a sort of amnesia about the divine constitution of the Church and a relativistic neo-gnosticism of the elite.

Schneider, who grew up under the Soviet regime, knows the totalitarian game well and wrote this book to defend “the little ones”—those who have faithfully kept to the constant teaching of the Church. In a candor rarely seen in a bishop, he readily admits that “he turned his brain off” during the pontificates of Paul VI and John Paul II due to the problematic elements in some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the unspoken and incorrect ecclesial dogma that a new church was breathed into being between 1962-1965.

Even amidst more conservative churchmen, there is a reticence to question elements of post-Vatican II practices that deviate from the faith of prior centuries. In the murky fog that is the current pontificate, Schneider has long since abandoned any polite qualms. Indeed, the bureaucratization of the modern Church is the result of the cult of such politeness.

Schneider’s solution to the present crisis is a restoration of authentic Catholic teaching and traditional worship, a heartfelt appeal to the Mother of God and one’s guardian angel, and acknowledging the Blessed Sacrament as the “source and summit” of Catholic life. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!

(John M. DeJak)