He was 87, and still active. He will be sorely missed.
I first read his People's History of the U.S. while visiting friends in New York City. I sat for hours in a cramped apartment, reading that book, when a more sensible tourist would have been out exploring. I have wished for a People's History of the World, and haven't found one.
Owen Thomas, at Open a Vein, pointed me to some fascinating recollections from Harvey Wasserman, How the great Howard Zinn made all our lives better. It's eery to read a eulogy before you know the person has died.
Most of the news reports say that he died in Santa Monica while traveling, and don't mention the purpose of his trip. I had a hunch he was traveling for a reason, so I kept searching, and found a notice of an event he was scheduled to speak at in Santa Monica next week, promoting his new documentary, The People Speak.
As I looked for more detailed reports, I turned to the NY Times, which usually has more in-depth coverage than smaller papers. This is the first time I've seen its nasty habit of slanting the news up close. Compare this respectful account of his life (from a source in Boston, his hometown) to the NY Times account, sprinkled 'liberally' with the word leftist.
I hope Zinn, who is noted for his sense of humor, would chuckle at my Onion-style imaginary headline: In Anti-war Publicity Stunt, Zinn Dies While Obama Gives Sate of the Union Address
Zinn has died, long live activism. Or, as they said in Nicaragua, Presente!