Howard Zinn Carried Out an Act of Radical Diplomacy in the Middle of the Vietnam War

Howard Zinn (left) and Daniel Berrigan (right) in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February 1968.

“A ‘rare act in the great madness of this war’ was how forty-five-year-old historian Howard Zinn described North Vietnam’s decision to release three American pilots during the Tet Offensive. Standing beside Jesuit priest, poet, and anti-war activist Daniel Berrigan in front of a room full of US reporters, Zinn read from one of his notebooks and declared their recent trip to Hanoi a success. The two anti-war activists met with the North Vietnamese government in February 1968 and helped transport the three prisoners back to the United States. The exchange was largely symbolic but was an extension of his radical internationalism and opposition to foreign wars. Reexamining his provocative trips behind enemy lines during the Vietnam War — on what would have been his hundredth birthday today — serves as a reminder that Zinn was both an incredibly productive progressive historian and a persistent critic of US empire. Zinn was the rare left historian who infiltrated American popular culture. But he is still mostly known for debunking myths related to European colonialism and the nation’s founding. … Whether it’s Hollywood or a Republican president, Zinn’s work is primarily associated with the origins of the United States. But his opposition to US foreign policy, particularly during the Vietnam War, deserves more attention. The notes Zinn kept during his first trip to Hanoi are now a part of his archive at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. The collection contains several other notebooks from similar trips, including his second visit to Hanoi in 1972, during the final months of the US war in Vietnam. Zinn documents his lengthy conversations with North Vietnamese leaders and American POWs but also bears witness to the destruction wrought by US bombing raids. Taken together, the handwritten notes capture Zinn’s radical internationalism. …”
Jacobin Radio – Special: Howard Zinn’s 1969 Speech Against the Vietnam War (Audio)
Carnegie Council: Mission to Hanoi, 1968

Daniel Berrigan (center, standing) and Howard Zinn (far right, seated) in Hanoi in February 1968.

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This entry was posted in Books, Hanoi, Philip Berrigan, Religion, SDS, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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