January 31, 2010 in Nation/World

In Passing

From wire reports

Karen Schmeer, film editor

New York – An award-winning film editor who worked on many of Errol Morris’ documentaries, including “The Fog of War,” was struck and killed by a getaway car speeding from a Manhattan drugstore robbery Friday, police said.

Karen Schmeer was crossing Broadway at West 90th Street on the Upper West Side when she was struck by a car driven by two suspects in the theft of over-the-counter medication from a CVS drugstore a few blocks away.

Schmeer was an editor for Morris’ documentaries as well as other works, including “Sergio,” which won a best-editing award last year at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie is about Sergio de Mello, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights killed in a 2003 explosion at U.N. headquarters in Iraq.

“She was just extremely loved by many, many friends,” said Schmeer’s mother, Eleanor DuBois Schmeer, from her home in Portland, Ore., where her daughter was born.

Howard Zinn, leftist historian

Santa Monica, Calif. – Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist “A People’s History of the United States” sold a million copies and became an alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. Zinn, 87, died of a heart attack.

Published in 1980 with little promotion and a first printing of 5,000, “A People’s History” was – fittingly – a people’s best-seller, attracting a wide audience through word of mouth and reaching 1 million sales in 2003.

At a time when few politicians dared even call themselves liberal, “A People’s History” told an openly left-wing story. Zinn charged Christopher Columbus and other explorers with genocide, picked apart presidents from Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrated workers, feminists and war resisters.

In a 1998 interview with the Associated Press, Zinn acknowledged he was not trying to write an objective history, or a complete one. He called his book a response to traditional works, the first chapter – not the last – of a new kind of history.

“There’s no such thing as a whole story; every story is incomplete,” Zinn said. “My idea was the orthodox viewpoint has already been done a thousand times.”

Louis Auchincloss, writer

New York – Louis Auchincloss, a prolific author of fiction and nonfiction whose dozens of books imparted sober, firsthand knowledge of America’s patrician class, has died. He was 92.

Auchincloss died Tuesday, a week after suffering a stroke.

He wrote more than 50 books, averaging about one a year after the end of World War II, and crafted such accomplished works as the novel “The Rector of Justin” and the memoir “A Writer’s Capital,” not to mention biographies, literary criticism and short stories. He was a four-time fiction finalist for the National Book Award, his nominated novels including “The Embezzler” and “The House of Five Talents.”

He was also a cousin by marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and she worked with him when she was a book editor late in her life. He described her as “a shrewd and imaginative editor of prose.”

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