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Howard Zinn - You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train Reviews

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Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

May 4, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]"Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" is an inspiring documentary about the respected historian, activist and occasional playwright, Howard Zinn. A bombing run towards the end of World War II changed his thinking towards war and he started thinking about how to achieve social justice without resorting to violence.(Zinn's philosophy of pacifism is not a passive one and he believes in the practice of civil disobedience.) Later on, after he became a professor, he was deeply involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements, up to the present day when activism is at its most necessary, sometimes to the detriment of his own career. [/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Zinn teaches the history of average people who have made a difference and continue to do so everyday, not the government which is often in conflict with its own people.(He is best known for writing "The People's History of the United States" which I have not yet read.) Zinn believes that education need not be entirely confined to classrooms but also on the streets where students can make a difference.[/font]
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

July 17, 2008
A great introduction to Howard Zinn and his teachings. Kudos to Matt Damon for taking part in this and kudos to anyone else who uses this as a stepping stone to learn more and then take action. Power to the people!
flixsterbum
March 16, 2008
I just finished reading "A People's History of the United States", and saw this was a Watch It Now feature, so thought I'd give it a whirl. Like most documentaries about complex people and issues, this is really more of a jumping-off point for those interested in learning more about Zinn and his work. I'm guessing for those already familiar with Zinn it probably covers a lot of the same ground one already knows. I'm right in the middle, so this has sparked more interest in reading more of his books. If nothing else, he's an engaging speaker and interviewee, so it's worth it just to hear him outside of the written page.
January 27, 2007
This story, his short political biography, inspires me to be more active in my life. I used to be a history major, but now out of college, I have not studied it at all. Feels like losing a part of my soul, or dystrophy of muscle; hopefully I can get it back by reading more and listening to great persons like him.
Npswink
January 6, 2007
An inspiration to historians, teachers, and activists of all sorts. Howard Zinn is a legend of the people.
Nickpenn23
December 30, 2006
An inspiration to historians, teachers, and activists of all sorts. Howard Zinn is a legend of the people.
January 8, 2013
Brings and understanding, and a relevance, to the progression of patriotism from a WWII veteran in the 1950's, 1960's, up through the millennial change.
September 25, 2011
Howard Zinn! Need I say more?
January 11, 2011
Really, really, really good.
corroncho
February 1, 2008
Thanks Howard once again for putting together more pieces of the intricate puzzle of democracy and justice.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

May 4, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]"Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" is an inspiring documentary about the respected historian, activist and occasional playwright, Howard Zinn. A bombing run towards the end of World War II changed his thinking towards war and he started thinking about how to achieve social justice without resorting to violence.(Zinn's philosophy of pacifism is not a passive one and he believes in the practice of civil disobedience.) Later on, after he became a professor, he was deeply involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements, up to the present day when activism is at its most necessary, sometimes to the detriment of his own career. [/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Zinn teaches the history of average people who have made a difference and continue to do so everyday, not the government which is often in conflict with its own people.(He is best known for writing "The People's History of the United States" which I have not yet read.) Zinn believes that education need not be entirely confined to classrooms but also on the streets where students can make a difference.[/font]
Jeliel≥
July 15, 2005
[i][b]Plot Outline:[/b] The life and times of Howard Zinn: the historian, activist, and author of several classics including "A Peoples History of the United States". Archival footage, and commentary by friend, colleagues and Zinn himself[/i]

Well as with many titles I pick from the rental store, I often pick them arbitrarily after reading the synopsis. I had, to my now great shame, never even heard of Howard Zinn. Poor boy born in Brooklyn, joined the air force where he first became aware, as a bombardier, that they were needlessly bombing cities at the end of the war because there were Nazis, who where doing nothing but waiting for the war to end, no longer fighting, no longer a threat, but they were bombed anyway, killing many civilians of this small French town.

Zinn is a proponent of non-violente resistance. He writes: "The term 'just war' contains an internal contradiction. War is inherently unjust, and the great challenge of our time is to how to deal with evil, tyranny, and oppression without killing huge numbers of people." (Source) Now I need to read up on this because I fail to see how peaceful opposition to the Nazis could have worked, they were literally on a killing spree. How many more lives would have expired if we had not taken action. It's not like economic sanctions could work, the Nazis simply took what they wanted and killed all who got in their way. And don't get me wrong, I'm a pacifist through and through but I don't believe in passivity and I believe violence to be part of human nature despite what Zinn has to say about human nature.

Zinn is a PhD graduate from Columbia but ended up chairman of the department of history and social sciences and teaching at Spellman College, a then college for black women in Atlanta. And then the hell raising began... He became an advisor for the SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) and also mentored young student activists including Alice Walker and Marian Wright Edelman. He was also very involved in trying to end the war in Viet-Nam. Helping in the release of 3 airmen who were held as POWs. And testified as an expert in a trial and pointed out that the reasons for the war were fictitious and could cause embarrassment to some politicians and hurt some contractors vying for natural resources the country had to offer. And that there was no threat to America, hence making the war unjustifiable (Oh how history seems to repeat itself continuously)

He is also the writer of dozens of books.

The DVD was cut coldly though. I wanted to be inspired but the documentary was slow and rather dull. Thankfully I was in a position to learn much about this man which made it bearable and then man himself is interesting, especially when he gives a speech at the Veterans For Peace conference. That was quite interesting. And maybe it's because I've been moore-arised but I like to feel something when I watch a doc, I want to be moved by what is being documented. I mean look at the title of this DVD... yet the doc itself is rather neutral.

A deserving 3 outta 5 because it could have been better in my opinion.
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