We saw the passing of two important men yesterday.
Howard Zinn was an anti-war activist and historian. He's best known for his book A People's History of the United States in which he presented a very different perspective of US history through the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities.
His friends, though, will remember him for much more than books. Daniel Ellsberg, well known for leaking the Pentagon Papers, knew Zinn as a passionate and peaceful war protester. He recently described Zinn as "the best human being I’ve ever known. The best example of what a human can be, and can do with their life."
I'm a little embarrassed to say I only started reading A People's History this year, but I think that's a bittersweet attestation that his work will enlighten people for many more generations.
Howard Zinn died of a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 87. Rest in peace.
J.D. Salinger was an influential American writer. His novel The Catcher in the Rye was a cultural phenomena that defined teen angst. And maybe because of this, and because Salinger was the type of writer you wanted to have a drink with, just like his most famous protagonist, Holden Caulfield, would have admired, Salinger became a reluctant celebrity and then a recluse. Though he last published in 1965, fans are hopeful that he continued to write and that his archive will one day be released.
J.D. Salinger died on Wednesday. He was 91. Rest in peace.