One of our favorite movie moments of all time is when Good Will Hunting‘s Will (Matt Damon) pulls out a historiographical can of whoop-ass on a snide young scholar looking for a scuffle. (“You’re a first year grad student. You just got finished reading some Marxian historian, Pete Garrison probably….next year, you’re gonna be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood, talking about ya know, the Pre-Revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization.”) Although the film may have sold a few books for Wood, we suspect it was better at moving copies of another tome mentioned in the film: A People’s History of the United States, written by Damon’s childhood neighbor, Howard Zinn. Since its publication in 1980, the book has sold more than 1.7 million copies, but what about those who prefer comics to dense pages of text? Well, now they have their own version.
A People’s History of American Empire is the classic told “in comic form,” created by Zinn in collaboration with historian Paul Buhle and cartoonist Mike Konopacki. Published this month by Macmillan, the book “opens with the events of 9/11 and then jumps back to explore the cycles of U.S. expansionism from Wounded Knee to Iraq, stopping along the way at World War I, Central America, Vietnam, and the Iranian revolution,” according to the publisher. And this being a comic book, there’s an added hero angle:
The book also follows the story of Zinn, the son of poor Jewish immigrants, from his childhood in the Brooklyn slums to his role as one of America’s leading historians.
Among the enthusiastic back cover blurbs is one from Ben Affleck, who calls it “A modern activist’s primer!”