The Battle Over History in Education, Politics, and Scholarship

A detailed defense of the work of radical historian Howard Zinn against his many critics.


Zinnophobia offers an extended defense of the work of radical historian Howard Zinn, author of the bestselling A People's History of the United States, against his many critics. It includes a discussion of the attempt to ban Zinn's book from Indiana classrooms; a brief summary of Zinn's life and work; an analysis of Zinn's theorizing about bias and objectivity in history; and a detailed response to twenty-five of Zinn's most hostile critics, many of whom are (or were) eminent historians.

'A major contribution to bringing Zinn’s great contributions to even broader public attention, and exposing features of intellectual and political culture that are of no little interest.'
Noam Chomsky


David Detmer, a philosopher, has done what no historian to date has accomplished—he has undertaken a systematic examination of Zinn’’s critics’’ arguments against him and basically has dismantled them. In the process he offers a clinic on how to evaluate the validity of other people’’s arguments...…. Detmer has done justice to the complexity of Howard Zinn’’s work and has evaluated Zinn’’s critics fairly, if unsparingly...…. The book is written in clear and compelling prose—it would be accessible to undergraduate students and could be used in History methods classes, in courses on critical thinking, and I would not be averse to assigning it in a graduate seminar. Susan Curtis, Professor of History and American Studies, Purdue University ~ Susan Curtis, blurb in the book, but not yet on the website

I've been waiting for this book! Howard Zinn's remarkably passionate and erudite work has attracted a huge readership, even while it has also been the target of shrill attacks by both politicians and academics, and not only rightwing academics. Now finally David Detmer has stepped up to the plate on Zinn's behalf with a calm and careful dissection of the logic and evidence, and Zinn emerges as he should, unscathed and indeed triumphant! ~ Frances Fox Piven

In his life and work, Howard Zinn made an immeasurable contribution to a more educated, enlightened, and civilized generation of Americans, more aware of the authentic history of their country and inspired by his example of courage and integrity. While justly honored and admired for his accomplishments, these also aroused bitter resentment and anger in certain circles, and he was subjected to venomous, contemptible attacks. The critiques and vituperation are subjected to rigorous and informed exposure and refutation in this spirited and comprehensive defense of one of the most admirable figures of the modern period. A major contribution to bringing Zinn’s great contributions to even broader public attention, and exposing features of intellectual and political culture that are of no little interest. ~ Noam Chomsky

Detmer offers a fascinating look at the anti-liberal prejudices of Mitch Daniels, a powerful politician turned university president. He exposes the uneducated foundation of Daniels’ hatred for Howard Zinn, and…reveals insights about broader attacks on intellectual freedom. But this is also a hopeful story, because the revelation of Daniels’ attempted censorship sparked a new wave of interest in Zinn’s work and the opportunity to examine his writings and his critics. ~ John K. Wilson, author President Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire

David Detmer
David Detmer David Detmer is a Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University Northwest. He is the author of Freedom as a Value (Open Court: 1988; winner o...
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