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Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State

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The dramatic and eye-opening original account of events that shook the nation. At noon on May 4, 1970, a thirteen-second burst of gunfire transformed the campus of Kent State University into a national nightmare. National Guard bullets killed four students and wounded nine. By nightfall the campus was evacuated and the school was closed. A generation of college students sai The dramatic and eye-opening original account of events that shook the nation. At noon on May 4, 1970, a thirteen-second burst of gunfire transformed the campus of Kent State University into a national nightmare. National Guard bullets killed four students and wounded nine. By nightfall the campus was evacuated and the school was closed. A generation of college students said they had lost all hope for the System and the future. Yet Kent State was not a radical university like Berkeley, Columbia, or Harvard. Although a new mood had been growing among the students in recent years, the school was not known for political activity or demonstrations. In fact, exactly one week before, students had held their traditional spring-is-here mudfight. What most alarmed Americans was the knowledge that if this tragedy could occur at Kent State, on a campus made up of the children of the Silent Majority and in the heart of Middle America, it could happen anywhere. But why? how did it happen that young Americans in battle helmets, gas masks, and combat boots confronted other young Americans wearing bell-bottom trousers, flowered shirts, and shoulder-length hair? What were the issues and why did the confrontation escalate so terribly? Would there be future confrontations like the one of May 4? To answer these questions, prize-winning reporters Eszterhas and Roberts, who were on campus on May 4, spent weeks interviewing all the participants in the tragedy. They traveled to victims' homes and talked to relatives and friends; they spoke to National Guardsmen on the firing line and to students who were fired on. By putting together hundreds of first-person accounts they were able to establish for the first time what actually took place on the day of the shooting. With new prefaces by Joe Eszterhas and Michael D. Roberts.


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The dramatic and eye-opening original account of events that shook the nation. At noon on May 4, 1970, a thirteen-second burst of gunfire transformed the campus of Kent State University into a national nightmare. National Guard bullets killed four students and wounded nine. By nightfall the campus was evacuated and the school was closed. A generation of college students sai The dramatic and eye-opening original account of events that shook the nation. At noon on May 4, 1970, a thirteen-second burst of gunfire transformed the campus of Kent State University into a national nightmare. National Guard bullets killed four students and wounded nine. By nightfall the campus was evacuated and the school was closed. A generation of college students said they had lost all hope for the System and the future. Yet Kent State was not a radical university like Berkeley, Columbia, or Harvard. Although a new mood had been growing among the students in recent years, the school was not known for political activity or demonstrations. In fact, exactly one week before, students had held their traditional spring-is-here mudfight. What most alarmed Americans was the knowledge that if this tragedy could occur at Kent State, on a campus made up of the children of the Silent Majority and in the heart of Middle America, it could happen anywhere. But why? how did it happen that young Americans in battle helmets, gas masks, and combat boots confronted other young Americans wearing bell-bottom trousers, flowered shirts, and shoulder-length hair? What were the issues and why did the confrontation escalate so terribly? Would there be future confrontations like the one of May 4? To answer these questions, prize-winning reporters Eszterhas and Roberts, who were on campus on May 4, spent weeks interviewing all the participants in the tragedy. They traveled to victims' homes and talked to relatives and friends; they spoke to National Guardsmen on the firing line and to students who were fired on. By putting together hundreds of first-person accounts they were able to establish for the first time what actually took place on the day of the shooting. With new prefaces by Joe Eszterhas and Michael D. Roberts.

30 review for Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robert Morrow

    Originally published six months after the tragedy at Kent State, the book is more of a summary of reporting than an historical narrative. The authors chose to simply publish what they had written forty-one years ago rather than do any additional research. The narrative itself is very choppy and only occasionally provides a sense of drama; it could have been vastly improved by reorganizing it into the parallel stories of the key players and those who died at the scene. For example, the story of t Originally published six months after the tragedy at Kent State, the book is more of a summary of reporting than an historical narrative. The authors chose to simply publish what they had written forty-one years ago rather than do any additional research. The narrative itself is very choppy and only occasionally provides a sense of drama; it could have been vastly improved by reorganizing it into the parallel stories of the key players and those who died at the scene. For example, the story of the shootings makes no mention of those who died; they are simply bodies falling or people bleeding. We only learn about them after the tale is told. An entire chapter is devoted to Corso, but he disappears when the action unfolds and so his link to his responsibility for the shootings is severely weakened. The lack of diagrams showing the movement of students and soldiers on May 4 is inexcusable. The value in the book is to remind us that the current period of divisiveness in the United States is hardly unique and relatively small potatoes when compared to the division in the country during the Vietnam War.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    Thought I kmew I grew up in this time period and I thought I knew what happened at Kent State. This story unfolds as an amazing yet tragic story of college students who would not give up what they believe in. From the violence before the shootings to the profiles after, this is truly an amazing book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Ellis

    Another book about the shootings at Kent State on May 4th, 1970 that I felt had both strengths and weaknesses. My reasons for reading it included that it was available on iBooks and that it included believable biographies of the four students that died that day. Bringing the victims alive, giving them a place in the story was, for me, the biggest strength of this book. On the other hand, the book was quickly produced, based largely on interviews done in the aftermath of the events. While the two Another book about the shootings at Kent State on May 4th, 1970 that I felt had both strengths and weaknesses. My reasons for reading it included that it was available on iBooks and that it included believable biographies of the four students that died that day. Bringing the victims alive, giving them a place in the story was, for me, the biggest strength of this book. On the other hand, the book was quickly produced, based largely on interviews done in the aftermath of the events. While the two authors brought different perspectives (or biases?) to their work, the unintended consequence was that it was a choppy read. It was a journalistic work, rather than an historical analysis; it did however Include the four who's lives ended that day.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Brooks

    Highly informative look at the events leading up to and including May 4th, 1970 at Kent State University. Due to the time of its writing, though, the aftermath is a muddled mess that lays out the chaotic search for answers. 50 years later, there are many answers, but you’ll have to look elsewhere than this book for them.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura Spears

    4 dead in ohio I remember this tragedy. I was 10 years old. I still can't believe that it Happened in America and that people thought that killing protesters was OK. Flowers are better than BULLETS. 4 dead in ohio I remember this tragedy. I was 10 years old. I still can't believe that it Happened in America and that people thought that killing protesters was OK. Flowers are better than BULLETS.

  6. 4 out of 5

    George Nap

    No spin, no agenda. Interviews, facts laid out for the reader to judge. If you have a choice between this and the Michener book on Kent State, read this one.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    This book was good and covered the events. But some of the writing was "overdone." It needed a bit more conciseness in places. This book was good and covered the events. But some of the writing was "overdone." It needed a bit more conciseness in places.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is an important book, well written and well researched. Initially, I thought there was too much background, and too much jumping around and discussing different events that may have lead to the shooting. But it worked and was very informative. I found the chapters near the end about each student who was killed to be very moving and to be as nice as a tribute as you could give to four young people killed by violence that was unnecessary, unapologized for.

  9. 5 out of 5

    J'Khari

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex Arend

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sean Currao

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lindal

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul Welsh

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maria Cimino

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aine

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Georgevich

  18. 4 out of 5

    kenny lucas

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Horvath

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sheehan Hannan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lois Jeavons

  23. 4 out of 5

    joseph a slomski

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michele

  27. 5 out of 5

    Memory

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vince

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Paribello

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