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On May 4, 1970, National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed antiwar protesters at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students and wounding nine others, including the author of this book. The shootings shocked the American public and triggered a nationwide wave of campus strikes and protests. To many at the time, Kent State seemed an unlikely site for the bloodies On May 4, 1970, National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed antiwar protesters at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students and wounding nine others, including the author of this book. The shootings shocked the American public and triggered a nationwide wave of campus strikes and protests. To many at the time, Kent State seemed an unlikely site for the bloodiest confrontation in a decade of campus unrest -- a sprawling public university in the American heartland, far from the coastal epicenters of political and social change. Yet, as Thomas M. Grace shows, the events of May 4 were not some tragic anomaly but were grounded in a tradition of student political activism that extended back to Ohio's labor battles of the 1950s. The vast expansion of the university after World War II brought in growing numbers of working-class enrollees from the industrial centers of northeast Ohio, members of the same demographic cohort that eventually made up the core of American combat forces in Vietnam. As the war's rising costs came to be felt acutely in the home communities of Kent's students, tensions mounted between the growing antiwar movement on campus, the university administration, and the political conservatives who dominated the surrounding county as well as the state government. The deadly shootings at Kent State were thus the culmination of a dialectic of radicalization and repression that had been building throughout the decade. In the years that followed, the antiwar movement continued to strengthen on campus, bolstered by an influx of returning Vietnam veterans. After the war ended, a battle over the memory and meaning of May 4 ensued. It continues to the present day.


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On May 4, 1970, National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed antiwar protesters at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students and wounding nine others, including the author of this book. The shootings shocked the American public and triggered a nationwide wave of campus strikes and protests. To many at the time, Kent State seemed an unlikely site for the bloodies On May 4, 1970, National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed antiwar protesters at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students and wounding nine others, including the author of this book. The shootings shocked the American public and triggered a nationwide wave of campus strikes and protests. To many at the time, Kent State seemed an unlikely site for the bloodiest confrontation in a decade of campus unrest -- a sprawling public university in the American heartland, far from the coastal epicenters of political and social change. Yet, as Thomas M. Grace shows, the events of May 4 were not some tragic anomaly but were grounded in a tradition of student political activism that extended back to Ohio's labor battles of the 1950s. The vast expansion of the university after World War II brought in growing numbers of working-class enrollees from the industrial centers of northeast Ohio, members of the same demographic cohort that eventually made up the core of American combat forces in Vietnam. As the war's rising costs came to be felt acutely in the home communities of Kent's students, tensions mounted between the growing antiwar movement on campus, the university administration, and the political conservatives who dominated the surrounding county as well as the state government. The deadly shootings at Kent State were thus the culmination of a dialectic of radicalization and repression that had been building throughout the decade. In the years that followed, the antiwar movement continued to strengthen on campus, bolstered by an influx of returning Vietnam veterans. After the war ended, a battle over the memory and meaning of May 4 ensued. It continues to the present day.

35 review for Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bob Baker

    This history is an excellent look at dissent at one university, Kent State, within the national dissent of the 1950’s through the 1970’s, with a focus on understanding the cataclysmic events of May 4, 1970. The author, one of the nine survivors of the shootings carried out by the Ohio National Guard that killed four other students, provides both the activist history at Kent State and the national context of that activism during the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement of those This history is an excellent look at dissent at one university, Kent State, within the national dissent of the 1950’s through the 1970’s, with a focus on understanding the cataclysmic events of May 4, 1970. The author, one of the nine survivors of the shootings carried out by the Ohio National Guard that killed four other students, provides both the activist history at Kent State and the national context of that activism during the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement of those years. Although the Kent State shootings are a watershed in our cultural development as a country, there are still many people in northeast Ohio and the nation who believe in the authoritarian model popular 50 years ago. This book, together with other histories of that time, are essential to understanding the changes that have occurred and continue to occur as we progress towards a more egalitarian future.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Morse

    While most people learn about the Vietnam War protest at Kent state which lead to the slaughter of four students, the history of the anti-war movement at Kent and elsewhere is less well taught. This book takes the events of the May 4th shooting out of the vacuum and fills in the decade long history of Kent State protests and the growth of the anti-war movement. I enjoyed learning more about the dissidents of the period and the cultural comparison between how the Nixon Administration framed prote While most people learn about the Vietnam War protest at Kent state which lead to the slaughter of four students, the history of the anti-war movement at Kent and elsewhere is less well taught. This book takes the events of the May 4th shooting out of the vacuum and fills in the decade long history of Kent State protests and the growth of the anti-war movement. I enjoyed learning more about the dissidents of the period and the cultural comparison between how the Nixon Administration framed protestors and events today. From reading this book I became more aware of how the tactics of gaslighting and lying are time tested to sway public opinion.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Gregorich

    Even though you have lived through a particular time in history, that doesn’t mean you remember all its dates and details. So it is with me and the Sixties: I lived through them, but it took Thomas M. Grace’s Death and Dissent: Kent State and the Long 60s, to bring them back to me in detail. More than detail — in sweeping panorama. For in reading the book I once again recognize that the students who participated in antiwar demonstrations at Kent State University were heroes. They were young, they Even though you have lived through a particular time in history, that doesn’t mean you remember all its dates and details. So it is with me and the Sixties: I lived through them, but it took Thomas M. Grace’s Death and Dissent: Kent State and the Long 60s, to bring them back to me in detail. More than detail — in sweeping panorama. For in reading the book I once again recognize that the students who participated in antiwar demonstrations at Kent State University were heroes. They were young, they were mostly working class, they were in the process of becoming adults, of making decisions on right and wrong and the way they should live their lives. For a growing number of these college-age students, an abyss of lies and death separated what United States leaders said (“land of the free,” “justice for all” “equality”) and what they did (denied black Americans and other minorities civil liberties, economic opportunity, and representation; used imperialist military force against other countries). In their determination to fight for justice, the radicalizing students met with retaliation. Seeing this chasm of lies and death, the students labeled as radical stood solidly on one side of the chasm: the side of justice. As shown in Death and Dissent, their silent vigils, their peaceful marches, their teach-ins, their invited speakers — not one of these caused the supporters of the status quo to listen or to change their minds, be they the majority of the townspeople of Kent, the administration of the university, the elected state government officials, or the members of the national government. Each of these groups stood against racial equality and in favor of the war in Vietnam. And, as so exactly documented in Grace’s book, they stood in the way of students’ freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. In protesting against the war in Vietnam and for freedom of speech and assembly, the students at Kent State University created, discarded, and even resurrected a large number of organizations, committees, and actions (all identified by Grace) which they hoped would lead to ending the war. All of the organizations failed them for one reason or another, in one way or another. Who did not fail the students was they themselves. And, in many, many cases, their professors, who stood on picket lines with them, who attended vigils, who jeopardized their jobs by going against what KSU Administration wanted, and who, in the case of Professor Glen Frank of the Geology Department, stood between the fired-upon students and the National Guard as it prepared to launch a second round of murder. These professors were heroes, but even more so were the antiwar students, including the returning Vietnam veterans who joined the antiwar movement and put their knowledge of tactics, troop movements, and defensive positions to use. As I read this well-documented and well-constructed book, I felt the tension mounting, and even though I knew what would happen, I dreaded the coming clash. In the aftermath, I was shocked and saddened to see how badly some members of the National Guard wanted to kill the students, and at how satisfied some of the townspeople were at the deaths. But I was heartened by and proud of how the students themselves responded to the May 4, 1970 murders. They continued to demonstrate for peace, for civil rights, for free speech and freedom of assembly. And they knew, to their very core, that they — not the Administration — were the only ones fit to serve as guardians to the May 4 memorial. That fight, too, was not easy to win. But win it they did, and today, in its 47th year, the May 4 Task Force honors both those students who died and those who survived, linking the antiwar principles of May 1970 to present-day struggles. In the US today the abyss is deeper than ever, with the ruling class intent on forcing the working class to pay for all the ruling class extravagances, its destruction of the natural world, and its indifference to the masses of humanity. It wants to drive impoverished citizens into the military (the largest employer in the US) and send them into foreign countries to fight for US corporate profits. Death and Dissent is riveting description and analysis of what happened in the past. But it is also a picture of what can happen whenever and wherever dissent is not tolerated. We can learn from the brave antiwar students at Kent State University — from their mistakes, and from their intransigence in the face of injustice. Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long 60s is a must read for all who are interested in the history of dissent in the Sixties. Full Disclosure: I was a student at KSU 1961-1964, and I taught there as an Instructor in the English Department, 1965-66. I am one of the hundreds and hundreds whom Thomas M. Grace interviewed for Death and Dissent.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marley

    Superb history of May 4 by an historian who was here. I wasn't but my boyfriend was (one of the guys who burned down the ROTC). Some of the people written about I knew; others I'd heard of. I wish, the author had discussed Jerry Rupe's involvement more. Superb history of May 4 by an historian who was here. I wasn't but my boyfriend was (one of the guys who burned down the ROTC). Some of the people written about I knew; others I'd heard of. I wish, the author had discussed Jerry Rupe's involvement more.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bartl

    Even though it took me several months to finish, I was very engrossed in this book. I learned a lot about the history of the political activism movement at Kent State, and wondered how different such an event would be today. There would be cell phone and security camera records of the protest and the lethal response. Not to mention the litigation afterwards! I very much appreciated the carefully researched and heavily footnoted text. I kept a bookmark in the footnotes section so I could easily f Even though it took me several months to finish, I was very engrossed in this book. I learned a lot about the history of the political activism movement at Kent State, and wondered how different such an event would be today. There would be cell phone and security camera records of the protest and the lethal response. Not to mention the litigation afterwards! I very much appreciated the carefully researched and heavily footnoted text. I kept a bookmark in the footnotes section so I could easily follow along. The university libraries special collections is holding an exhibit about "1967" and it is so much more meaningful to me because I've read this book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Kent State shootings and the anti-war movement that led to that fateful encounter, as well as for reminders of the influences of strong anti-communist feeling, union activism and other social forces.

  6. 4 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  8. 5 out of 5

    Glyndwr

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul Manoguerra

  10. 5 out of 5

    Madison Fleitas

  11. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patrice

  13. 4 out of 5

    ShanLandis

  14. 4 out of 5

    nitya

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jillee Horn

  16. 4 out of 5

    mt

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Kimbrough

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  19. 4 out of 5

    Casey

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ardem

  21. 4 out of 5

    Phobos

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ash

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mac

  25. 4 out of 5

    joseph zilvinskis

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  27. 5 out of 5

    dejah_thoris

  28. 5 out of 5

    G

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve Knudsen

  31. 4 out of 5

    Alex The Ninja Squirrel

  32. 4 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

  33. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

  34. 4 out of 5

    Serena

  35. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

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