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From bestselling author Derf Backderf comes the untold story of the Kent State shootings—timed for the 50th anniversary   On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In a deadly barrage of 67 shots, 4 students were killed and 9 shot and wounded. It was the day America turned guns on its o From bestselling author Derf Backderf comes the untold story of the Kent State shootings—timed for the 50th anniversary   On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In a deadly barrage of 67 shots, 4 students were killed and 9 shot and wounded. It was the day America turned guns on its own children—a shocking event burned into our national memory. A few days prior, 10-year-old Derf Backderf saw those same Guardsmen patrolling his nearby hometown, sent in by the governor to crush a trucker strike. Using the journalism skills he employed on My Friend Dahmer and Trashed, Backderf has conducted extensive interviews and research to explore the lives of these four young people and the events of those four days in May, when the country seemed on the brink of tearing apart. Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, which will be published in time for the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, is a moving and troubling story about the bitter price of dissent—as relevant today as it was in 1970.  


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From bestselling author Derf Backderf comes the untold story of the Kent State shootings—timed for the 50th anniversary   On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In a deadly barrage of 67 shots, 4 students were killed and 9 shot and wounded. It was the day America turned guns on its o From bestselling author Derf Backderf comes the untold story of the Kent State shootings—timed for the 50th anniversary   On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In a deadly barrage of 67 shots, 4 students were killed and 9 shot and wounded. It was the day America turned guns on its own children—a shocking event burned into our national memory. A few days prior, 10-year-old Derf Backderf saw those same Guardsmen patrolling his nearby hometown, sent in by the governor to crush a trucker strike. Using the journalism skills he employed on My Friend Dahmer and Trashed, Backderf has conducted extensive interviews and research to explore the lives of these four young people and the events of those four days in May, when the country seemed on the brink of tearing apart. Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, which will be published in time for the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, is a moving and troubling story about the bitter price of dissent—as relevant today as it was in 1970.  

30 review for Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Powerful and moving - 5+ Stars I was born almost a decade after most of the chaos surrounding the Vietnam War in the late 60s/early 70s. I can only imagine what it was like to grow up with the threat of being drafted and the chaos of military action on our home soil. Unfortunately, 2020 has shown that maybe we have not come quite as far from the events of Kent State as we hoped. Backderf does a great job with all of his research and sharing this important story using the graphic novel medium. It m Powerful and moving - 5+ Stars I was born almost a decade after most of the chaos surrounding the Vietnam War in the late 60s/early 70s. I can only imagine what it was like to grow up with the threat of being drafted and the chaos of military action on our home soil. Unfortunately, 2020 has shown that maybe we have not come quite as far from the events of Kent State as we hoped. Backderf does a great job with all of his research and sharing this important story using the graphic novel medium. It may not seem like a topic for a "comic book", but it really does a great job in making a complicated and difficult subject relatable. As the story is told, he makes you want the visuals and then he gives them to you instantly. I looked up a few of the backgrounds on Google Maps and he did a great job in accurately recreating the setting. Just amazing all around. Speaking further about the visuals, I enjoy Backderf's style. It is a bit cartoonish and sometimes reminds me of old Mad Magazine art, but that does not get in the way of telling a serious story. It is enjoyable to look at and very precise so that there is not a lot of "extra" to get in the way of the main focus of each panel. Again, really great stuff here! I have read non-fiction recently about 9/11 and mention in that review that the story might be a difficult one for some, but sometimes the truths are hard and we still need to learn about them. That is the case with Backderf's Kent State, and I think anyone would benefit by reading this, learning, and remembering what happened 50 years ago in northeast Ohio as Americans attacked other Americans in a conflict that could have been avoided. Again, it is a lesson I think that some still need to learn.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    “My God! They’re killing us!”--Kent State Freshman Ron Steele, May 18, 1970 “Four dead in Ohio”--Neil Young I was a high school student in 1970 when the Kent State killings took place, Ohio National Guard firing live ammo on unarmed students, four killed, nine maimed for life, thousands more traumatized, many in the country turned permanently activist against fascism if they weren't already there. I was already well read about Vietnam and had particpated in student protests as the country was now “My God! They’re killing us!”--Kent State Freshman Ron Steele, May 18, 1970 “Four dead in Ohio”--Neil Young I was a high school student in 1970 when the Kent State killings took place, Ohio National Guard firing live ammo on unarmed students, four killed, nine maimed for life, thousands more traumatized, many in the country turned permanently activist against fascism if they weren't already there. I was already well read about Vietnam and had particpated in student protests as the country was now turning seriously against the war. Derf Backderf is an Ohio comics artist that has produced books on his former high school acquaintance Jeffrey Dahmer, his work as a garbageman in Trashed. He was ten when the National Guard were called into this little college town to crush a peaceful demonstration against the war. All those who were shot were from 3-800 feet away, so there was no imminent danger. Some kids threw rocks, they shouted at the soldiers to get off the campus. So this was annoying to the Guard, but live bullets in response?! It appears some of the (undertrained) soldiers suddenly just got angry and started shooting, though it is also possible that they were given the go-ahead to shoot from the people "in charge." The shooting began as a surge of students came out of buildings; but it was not a mass rushto hurt the (nervous, green) Guard, it was a passing period betewen classes, which is why it was many students, books in hand and with no particular connection to the protest, were shot down. (I am glad that the killing of kids by military/police is a thing of the past, thank goodness. Bad/sad joke). In the days after the massacre, polls revealed that 58% of Americans blamed the students for the killings; only 11% blamed the National Guard. It took several years for the truth to come out that many kids were just going to class, and none of the kids who were shot could be seen as "radicals." But what many people don't realize is that the killing ignited thousands of campus protests all over the country, closing down schools, and continuing this kind of violence against America’s children at other campuses across the country (yes, there were additional killings of students who were protesting Kent State and the war that followed this). Derf's book was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the massacre. As was Deborah Wiles's YA book Kent State, which I also reviewed here. Derf’s book is a kind of dramatic re-creation rather than historical work, but it helps you feel you were there, helps us humanize and get to know each of the truly nice kids who were killed, and there are source materials for every scene in the appendix. One sad chapter in American history. It's not without balance, as we see that the smashing of windows in downtown businesses and the burning of a ROTC shed took place, turning public opinion against young people prior to the events of May 1970. If you are interested, Kent State has a massive archive of materials, interviews, and so on, so you can decide for yourself what happened, all materials Derf researched thoroughly for years for this amazing book, one of the best this year or any year. The kind of balance between alt comix sixties style art and meticulous attention to detail is amazing. His (so far) masterpiece! Chris Butler’s “Beggar’s Bullets” (also known as rocks): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se-Ku... Fifty years later, Kent State students who were present at the massacre reflect on that day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I26iW... 100 photographs taken at the time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I26iW...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    The more things change . . . Derf provides this dramatization of events leading up to the Kent State shootings that happened fifty years ago, but it all eerily echoes headlines from today's news: a corrupt and paranoid president leads the country, a liberal mainstream protest movement is aswirl in rumors of radical elements and terrorism, armed conservatives are sick of what they see as chaos and anarchy and are ready to put a stop to it all by any means necessary. Gripping and tragic. I couldn't The more things change . . . Derf provides this dramatization of events leading up to the Kent State shootings that happened fifty years ago, but it all eerily echoes headlines from today's news: a corrupt and paranoid president leads the country, a liberal mainstream protest movement is aswirl in rumors of radical elements and terrorism, armed conservatives are sick of what they see as chaos and anarchy and are ready to put a stop to it all by any means necessary. Gripping and tragic. I couldn't even make myself stop reading until I finished all the damned endnotes at two in the morning.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    War, lies, fascism, Republicans, brutality. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Gorgeous, riveting, disturbing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: A graphic non-fiction account of the shooting of four students at Kent State University, focusing on the students who died, and the sequence of events leading up to the shooting, and the dynamics within the National Guard Troops sent to suppress the student demonstrations. Today (May 4) marks 50 years since the shootings that took the lives of four Kent State students and wounded nine others, some disabled for life. I grew up about 35 miles from Kent in nearby Youngstown. Sandy Scheuer, Summary: A graphic non-fiction account of the shooting of four students at Kent State University, focusing on the students who died, and the sequence of events leading up to the shooting, and the dynamics within the National Guard Troops sent to suppress the student demonstrations. Today (May 4) marks 50 years since the shootings that took the lives of four Kent State students and wounded nine others, some disabled for life. I grew up about 35 miles from Kent in nearby Youngstown. Sandy Scheuer, a student walking between classes, grew up in Boardman, a Youngstown suburb. She was a sweet, apolitical, speech pathology major until one of the shots severed her jugular. She bled to death in minutes. I was a high school sophomore at the time. We walked around school the day after utterly stunned. The others who died were Allison Krause, Jeff Miller, and Bill Schroeder. This new graphic non-fiction work by Derf Backderf traces the last days and final moments of these four students, from May 1 to May 4. It also covers the events surrounding the shootings. It begins with the announcement of Richard Nixon of the expansion of the Vietnam conflict into Cambodia, and the student reaction, including extensive rioting at Ohio State, a debacle for then governor James Rhodes, running for Senate. with a primary election coming up that week. Backderf profiles the Ohio National Guard, portraying these "weekend warriors" as coming into Kent from a tense standoff between teamsters and "scab" truckers in nearby Richfield. Short of sleep and already on edge from fear of snipers and other attacks, they arrive in Kent confronting students who have gutted a number of downtown businesses, and set an ROTC building on fire. Furthermore, a swirl of rumored threats put them on further edge. Bill Schroeder was an ROTC student, likable yet a serious student with increasing doubts about the war. Jeff Miller, a transfer student loved the Kent bar and music scene but was increasingly upset by the war, and the Guard presence, having been gassed and eluded helicopter surveillance to get back to his home. Allison Krause, a politically engaged student also had encounters with an increasingly hostile Guard, and was amid the demonstrators. Both Schroeder and Scheuer were in a parking lot more than 400 feet from where the shots were fired. The closest students were at least 150 feet away. Backderf's accounts of these students corresponds to others I've read. While Backderf's focus is on the students, he does explore radical elements with the Students for a Democratic Society and the Weatherman that had been on campus, but apparently cleared out before the student demonstrations on May 4. Unfortunately, Jeff Miller's red headband, matched descriptions of the headwear of some of the radicals. Backderf also gives attention to a suspicious photographer, Terry Norman, apparently working for the FBI or another agency. Backderf note that he was armed and in the middle of the demonstrations on May 4. He also explores the possibilities of significant government infiltration of the campus prior to the shootings. Two things stand out in the account of the shooting. One is the origin of the shooting. Backderf, like others, cannot come to a definitive conclusion, beyond focusing on Company G, and the reported huddle that occurred in the minutes before they opened fire. All the Guardsman were "locked and loaded" meaning that had live ammunition clips in their semiautomatic rifles, with a round in the firing chamber. Guns were reloaded  with new clips afterward and no one was ever held accountable for the shootings. The other thing that "graphically" stood out was the portrayal of the deaths and wounds of each student, including portrayals of entry and exit wounds, along with text describing the damage rendered by each bullet that struck a student. The force of an M-16 gunshot can fatally wound at 2 miles. One round penetrated a plate of steel in a sculpture. I have seen the bullet hole. Casualty numbers do not convey the terror of those moments, how the students who died never had a chance, and the utter waste of what occurred. Although this is a graphic work, it is not fiction but an attempt to render the history of these events graphically. The artist spent time onsite, and his renderings of places, including Kent's downtown bars is accurate. He interviewed people close to the four students and spent extensive time in other interviews and in the Kent archives. The back matter includes extensive notes detailing Backderf's research. On this 50th anniversary, amid a time of a country in a health crisis, an economic crisis, and already facing deep divisions, this book portrays how demonstrations can go horribly wrong. Violent words can accelerate to property damage and attacks on others. Sometimes, the forces called to intervene are not adequately prepared or properly led. Political officials at every layer of government can de-escalate or exacerbate tensions by their words and actions. The subtitle of this work is "Four Dead in Ohio," quoting the words from "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, released later that summer. At the conclusion of performances, these words are followed by "how many more?" I hope this work, conveying the history of what happened to the Kent State students will renew our commitment to "no more," even as occurred in the summer following these events. Some of us will never forget, some of us need to remember, and some of us may need to learn from this history to avoid repeating it. ________________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review galley of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Samantha W.

    You know what's horrifying about this? That it's never ending. At Kent State it was the National Guard, but all across America it's police officers, or other organizations that are supposed to protect the American people. No one takes responsibility for these situations, and it feels like it's often caused by misunderstanding and overly weaponized barely trained humans. Also, the fact that those who were officially put to trial were just freed with no true justice being served. Derf did a great j You know what's horrifying about this? That it's never ending. At Kent State it was the National Guard, but all across America it's police officers, or other organizations that are supposed to protect the American people. No one takes responsibility for these situations, and it feels like it's often caused by misunderstanding and overly weaponized barely trained humans. Also, the fact that those who were officially put to trial were just freed with no true justice being served. Derf did a great job researching this, and sharing what happened. I am disgusted, and beyond lost on how to make it better.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rory

    This book is an achievement of line work and layout. Derf's artwork is well-suited to the juxtaposition of 70s student-activists and over-armed National Guardsmen. The dialog doesn't read as realistic, but that's okay because it's still effective and thought-provoking. This book is an achievement of line work and layout. Derf's artwork is well-suited to the juxtaposition of 70s student-activists and over-armed National Guardsmen. The dialog doesn't read as realistic, but that's okay because it's still effective and thought-provoking.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    It's the 50th anniversary of the blood shed that occurred at Kent State. While I was familiar with the happenings, I wasn't really educated in the history and what was currently happening within our nation, causing these events to unfold. Told in a graphic novel, Backderf takes us into the state of affairs within the state of Ohio and specifically the college campuses in the state. Demonstrating well researched historical information and interviews with those who had first hand experiences durin It's the 50th anniversary of the blood shed that occurred at Kent State. While I was familiar with the happenings, I wasn't really educated in the history and what was currently happening within our nation, causing these events to unfold. Told in a graphic novel, Backderf takes us into the state of affairs within the state of Ohio and specifically the college campuses in the state. Demonstrating well researched historical information and interviews with those who had first hand experiences during this event, Backderf educates readers in a simple yet impactful way. After finishing this book I was intrigued and interested in learning more. Reading this story sparked conversations within our household and caused conversations around what we could have done differently, what the atmosphere must have been like for both National Guardsmen as well as students on campus, how it compares to the events of today and how the events at Kent State influenced future changes in many different areas. This isn't a book I would normally pickup and I'm glad I was selected to do an early review as I may have missed a great learning experience and genre of reading in the style of a graphic novel.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    I found this on my local library’s website. I’m so glad I got to it. It’s a lesson in the more things change, the more things stay the same. This chronicles the events leading up to the slaying of four students on Kent’s campus during protests in May of 1970. This gives a snapshot into student life on the campus and the tumultuous time in our nation’s history. It helps give a clear understanding of how the students are held in disdain by the community; how the students are trying to make sense o I found this on my local library’s website. I’m so glad I got to it. It’s a lesson in the more things change, the more things stay the same. This chronicles the events leading up to the slaying of four students on Kent’s campus during protests in May of 1970. This gives a snapshot into student life on the campus and the tumultuous time in our nation’s history. It helps give a clear understanding of how the students are held in disdain by the community; how the students are trying to make sense of the Vietnam War; the role of the National Guard during riots and protests during this time; and the politics of Nixon. It’s a sad day when innocent people are slain; it’s made more sad when no one is held responsible.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Fairweather

    Full Disclosure: This was a free read thanks to the Goodreads Giveaway Program This has been sitting on my to read shelf for sometime, however with what has been going on in the world over the last couple of days due to the travesty of death of George Floyd and all of the ongoing protests, riots, and cries for social change, I thought this was an appropriate time to dive in. I found this to be an awkward read as the artwork to me gave a more lighthearted view of the tragic events at Kent State bac Full Disclosure: This was a free read thanks to the Goodreads Giveaway Program This has been sitting on my to read shelf for sometime, however with what has been going on in the world over the last couple of days due to the travesty of death of George Floyd and all of the ongoing protests, riots, and cries for social change, I thought this was an appropriate time to dive in. I found this to be an awkward read as the artwork to me gave a more lighthearted view of the tragic events at Kent State back in 1970. I am not saying that was the intent, but I do believe that a different artist wouldve been more impactful to me. Much of the read came across as one persons interpretation of the events while also acting as an historic retrospective. I think in truth it was a combination of the two as there is plenty of factual references, footnotes, and acknowledgements, but again, I think the delivery hinders the intent. I would also tend to say that those who are not a comic fan like myself would immediately write this off thus losing a large share of potential audience members. As I progressed through the story however, I did become more entrenched and intrigued. Nothing really new was revealed to me as this is a point in history that I have had much interest in over the years diving into many documentaries, articles, books, etc., however I do think this may become an excellent starting point for younger uninformed readers. What hit me most, as I mentioned earlier that I read this over the weekend while the May 2020 George Floyd protests happened, were the countless, and I mean COUNTLESS, similarities to the treatment, response, and interaction with the protestors. Many of the same tactics were used, including lack of communication, responses by law enforcement, National Guard, and protestors, many of the same conspiracy theories such as law enforcement plants in the protest community, the treatment of the opposition (again Law Enforcement and Protestors) as sub-human and monstrous. We apparently havent learned much over the years based on past events, thus history continues to repeat.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    2020 may have been an awful year so far, but it has seen some truly stellar books. This graphic-format account of the infamous Kent State massacre of 1970 is one of them. Reading this book, I could almost hear the famous guitar intro of the iconic CSNY song that gave it its title. I learned so much about the pressure cooker that was Kent State in the days leading up to the tragedy. The story is far more convoluted than most realize, but this book excels at making the events clear and immediate. T 2020 may have been an awful year so far, but it has seen some truly stellar books. This graphic-format account of the infamous Kent State massacre of 1970 is one of them. Reading this book, I could almost hear the famous guitar intro of the iconic CSNY song that gave it its title. I learned so much about the pressure cooker that was Kent State in the days leading up to the tragedy. The story is far more convoluted than most realize, but this book excels at making the events clear and immediate. The unusually -monikered creator is becoming a true force in the comics world. The illustrations are fantastic and expressive, and you could see Backderf's dedication to honoring the memory of the victims and being as historically accurate as possible. KENT STATE will educate, inform, and provoke thought and recognition of many aspects of our contentious present era.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Got an advanced copy of this through work, and had to give it a read! After My Friend Dahmer, I expected big things from Backderf, but sadly, I was slightly disappointed. Perhaps it's difficult following up on something like My Friend Dahmer. That was probably the case, as I had trouble not thinking back to that book as I was reading this one. Kent State lacked the cinematic quality of Backderf's previous work, and read more like a documentary that was cartoonified, rather than an account of an Got an advanced copy of this through work, and had to give it a read! After My Friend Dahmer, I expected big things from Backderf, but sadly, I was slightly disappointed. Perhaps it's difficult following up on something like My Friend Dahmer. That was probably the case, as I had trouble not thinking back to that book as I was reading this one. Kent State lacked the cinematic quality of Backderf's previous work, and read more like a documentary that was cartoonified, rather than an account of an experience. While it was informative and didn't give too much of a biased view (in my opinion), this book lacked something. I'll probably get back to this review another time, when I can more accutely put my finger on what it was... This one just felt a little more flat.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    My interview feature with Derf Backderf is up on Publisher's Weekly: https://bit.ly/3asoNpq This is one of the best graphic novels I've read in the last five years. This May will be the 50th Anniversary of the tragedy, though from what I understand publication is being delayed to September due to the Coronavirus crisis. Whenever it comes out I highly recommend it. My interview feature with Derf Backderf is up on Publisher's Weekly: https://bit.ly/3asoNpq This is one of the best graphic novels I've read in the last five years. This May will be the 50th Anniversary of the tragedy, though from what I understand publication is being delayed to September due to the Coronavirus crisis. Whenever it comes out I highly recommend it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Molli B.

    I’ve been looking forward to this since I first heard about it last year, and I was bummed when the release date was (understandably) pushed back from May to September. My expectations were relatively high. I was maybe more excited about this release than any other book this year (that I can think of right now!). And I was not disappointed in the least. This was GREAT. I knew just the barest minimum about the events, and I think Derf did an amazing job telling the story, introducing the characte I’ve been looking forward to this since I first heard about it last year, and I was bummed when the release date was (understandably) pushed back from May to September. My expectations were relatively high. I was maybe more excited about this release than any other book this year (that I can think of right now!). And I was not disappointed in the least. This was GREAT. I knew just the barest minimum about the events, and I think Derf did an amazing job telling the story, introducing the characters, weaving their stories together, laying out what happened. If you don’t believe good storytelling is possible in nonfiction, I have a book for you to read. I read all the notes at the back, and his research seems impeccable. I love the voice he gives his nonfiction. Objective but with the occasional exclamation point to really get a point across. My dad, who was lucky enough to be stationed in Korea (instead of Vietnam!) when this happened enjoyed it, too. “Wow, seems like there was a lot more to it than we knew,” he said. I’ve had “Ohio” stuck in my head since I finished reading it (two weeks ago). Not a bad side effect. Highly, highly relevant to today. Unfortunately. Right after everyone reads March, they should read this. We’re lucky to have such talents artists and storytellers giving us these important looks into American history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachael Fryman

    Tough but important read. Sadly, parallels can be made in current day and that makes such historical recountings even more frustrating and heartbreaking.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    4.5 One of the strongest graphic novels of the year by the always reliable Derf Backderf. Extremely timely and incredibly powerful, this is a must-read for folks interested in the history of anti-war movements in this country.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter Landau

    I’ve been reading a lot of books from this era, which is also the time my memory begins as a preteen. There are a lot of similarities to the times we bemoan today. That gives me an odd sense of relief — things will just chug along regardless of dire predictions. I felt the same unearned sense of calm at the beginning of this thoroughly researched book on the tragedy of Kent State. Then I was anxious, overtaken by a feeling of foreboding. I knew what was coming, but it didn’t matter. This straigh I’ve been reading a lot of books from this era, which is also the time my memory begins as a preteen. There are a lot of similarities to the times we bemoan today. That gives me an odd sense of relief — things will just chug along regardless of dire predictions. I felt the same unearned sense of calm at the beginning of this thoroughly researched book on the tragedy of Kent State. Then I was anxious, overtaken by a feeling of foreboding. I knew what was coming, but it didn’t matter. This straight forward history told through the eyes of those who lived it is a powerful and emotional testament to what happened and could happen again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    DB just keeps getting better...thought I had a pretty good idea what happened at Kent State; was I ever wrong. DB takes us on campus and we walk with the students as tensions mount. Classic example of Nebel des Krieges - and when the tear gas cleared 'Tzuian' warnings of tactics/strategy were written in the blood of students - highest recommendation. DB just keeps getting better...thought I had a pretty good idea what happened at Kent State; was I ever wrong. DB takes us on campus and we walk with the students as tensions mount. Classic example of Nebel des Krieges - and when the tear gas cleared 'Tzuian' warnings of tactics/strategy were written in the blood of students - highest recommendation.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Amazing graphic history of the Kent State massacre, told partly through the stories of the 4 who were killed that day. Before I read this book, I knew little enough about the massacre that if I hadn't been reading the endnotes concurrently, I think I would have been shocked that 4 of the main people the narrative followed were killed! I was also surprised at how familiar the 1970 atmosphere of paranoia & disinformation feels in 2020 (or honestly, 2016, or 2006, etc). The surveillance, misinforma Amazing graphic history of the Kent State massacre, told partly through the stories of the 4 who were killed that day. Before I read this book, I knew little enough about the massacre that if I hadn't been reading the endnotes concurrently, I think I would have been shocked that 4 of the main people the narrative followed were killed! I was also surprised at how familiar the 1970 atmosphere of paranoia & disinformation feels in 2020 (or honestly, 2016, or 2006, etc). The surveillance, misinformation, & paranoia fostered by law enforcement at all levels in 1970 also goes a long way to explain to me how the last 40 years of conservative & national security state dominance (even during the Obama & Clinton presidencies) were able to take place after the successes of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements in the 50s-60s. The Epilogue really drives home the fact that the police are using the same sorts of lies & justifications they used 50 years ago because they learned that they work! Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio really connects a lot of dots. The art is amazing & a great example of Derf's evocative to the point of disgust style that I've been a fan of since I first read The City in Funny Times however long ago that was.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Neyly

    Nonfiction - graphic novel 5+ stars - At the end of 2021, when I look back at the books I read, I bet Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio will stand out as one of the best. I picked up Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio from the library and at a glance lost interest: longer than I expected and the cartoonish illustrations didn't appeal to me. (I forgot, if I ever knew, that Backderf is a political cartoonist.) However, I had requested it because of its strong reviews, so thought I'd give it a try. And, yeah, Nonfiction - graphic novel 5+ stars - At the end of 2021, when I look back at the books I read, I bet Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio will stand out as one of the best. I picked up Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio from the library and at a glance lost interest: longer than I expected and the cartoonish illustrations didn't appeal to me. (I forgot, if I ever knew, that Backderf is a political cartoonist.) However, I had requested it because of its strong reviews, so thought I'd give it a try. And, yeah, see the 5-star rating. Pro Organization - May 1, May 2, May 3, May 4. You feel the unrest building. Knowing that the tragedy of Kent State happens on May 4, you want to stop the inexorable march to the shooting. Research - Detailed Allison, Bill, Jeff, Sandy come alive for the reader. I got tears in my eyes at the depiction of the shooting, even knowing I cried for those who died over 50 years ago. Recommend: Yes Yes Yes - even those of you who aren't graphic novel fans should make an exception for this one. "[Backderf’s] expertly crafted chronicle of this defining moment in U.S. history serves as a deeply moving elegy for the victims. Readers may also draw from it sobering parallels to the deep divisions of contemporary times, again dangerously rife with media noise and misinformation muddying the waters.” ― Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review “An incendiary corrective to the myths and misconceptions surrounding these events and a memorial to the lives lost or forever altered that should be required reading for all Americans.” ― Library Journal - STARRED review

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This comprehensive graphic history of the Kent State tragedy covers the timeline of about 4 days before the event as well as some of the aftermath. The amount of research done by the author was clearly evident, as he examines the National Guard's response to protests that happened in the days before May 4, and the national, state, local, and collegiate political atmospheres. Recently I read Kent State, which was a verse history of those same days and events. That book might be a better choice fo This comprehensive graphic history of the Kent State tragedy covers the timeline of about 4 days before the event as well as some of the aftermath. The amount of research done by the author was clearly evident, as he examines the National Guard's response to protests that happened in the days before May 4, and the national, state, local, and collegiate political atmospheres. Recently I read Kent State, which was a verse history of those same days and events. That book might be a better choice for a younger reader, as it captures the broad sentiments of the major groups involved and takes a more emotional approach, but for an older reader (high school age and up) this gives more factual information and examines everything that culminated in the National Guard's attack on the students. I was glad to have a sense of what happened already from reading Wiles's book, and appreciated the deep dive into the events through this book. Back when I read Wiles's book, I was amazed at the connections to current events (BLM protests in May and June 2020), and as I read this book, the connections to new current events (the Capitol protest and political response in January 2021) floored me. Content advisory: strong language, depictions of gunshot victims, marijuana use.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    I had only vaguely heard of “The Kent State Massacre” before reading this graphic novel. Now I feel like I was there to observe it all unfold. “Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio” is an absolutely heartbreaking account, following in great detail, the last few days of the four students who died on May 4th. It’s eerie how many parallels there are to our present day’s treatment of protests and civil unrest, and how those in positions of power are not being held accountable for their blatant disregard of I had only vaguely heard of “The Kent State Massacre” before reading this graphic novel. Now I feel like I was there to observe it all unfold. “Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio” is an absolutely heartbreaking account, following in great detail, the last few days of the four students who died on May 4th. It’s eerie how many parallels there are to our present day’s treatment of protests and civil unrest, and how those in positions of power are not being held accountable for their blatant disregard of laws and public safety. And also how people are still so susceptible to believing the first thing they hear without question or evidence. It’s history repeating itself during the 50th anniversary of the massacre. What I love most about this book is that almost a quarter of it is filled with a detailed bibliography of primary sources, including many conflicting accounts, which reflects the author’s deep dedication to getting as many facts as possible. The bibliography also serves to help the reader come to their own conclusions about the events leading up to, and including, that day.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This is a well researched narrative of the few days leading up to the Kent State shootings, the incident, and the aftermath... The illustrations are evocative and make sense if you've ready other books by Derf before and are attuned to his illustration style, but I can see how his drawing style could be jarring or maybe seem unaligned with the seriousness of the story. That said, it is a really sensitive telling of the whole story: who the individuals were, what people felt and did, the atmosphe This is a well researched narrative of the few days leading up to the Kent State shootings, the incident, and the aftermath... The illustrations are evocative and make sense if you've ready other books by Derf before and are attuned to his illustration style, but I can see how his drawing style could be jarring or maybe seem unaligned with the seriousness of the story. That said, it is a really sensitive telling of the whole story: who the individuals were, what people felt and did, the atmosphere of the time, and the tragic chain of mistakes/misconceptions/paranoia/fearmongering that lead to the shooting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Meticulous, heart wrenching, infuriating. Typically wonderful artwork by Derf. Incredible notes. A timely read considering current state of affairs.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    ARC. Look forward to official release.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Awesome. Loved it. The graphic novel twist on this event makes the event itself come alive.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Irwin

    Powerful. There is a lot of history here that I didn't know, even as a Kent State alumni. The author's research helped me get to know the victims. Really well done. Powerful. There is a lot of history here that I didn't know, even as a Kent State alumni. The author's research helped me get to know the victims. Really well done.

  29. 5 out of 5

    April Helms

    Wow. I knew this was going to be good. I've read Trashed and My Friend Dahmer, both excellent reads I recommend to anyone, and perfect examples that dispel the myth that graphic novels are merely "lit lite." But Kent State blew even my high expectations out of the water. There is just so much detail in the story itself, and do check out the footnotes at the end for more information, and to appreciate the meticulous research and effort that went into this. But the quality doesn't end with the res Wow. I knew this was going to be good. I've read Trashed and My Friend Dahmer, both excellent reads I recommend to anyone, and perfect examples that dispel the myth that graphic novels are merely "lit lite." But Kent State blew even my high expectations out of the water. There is just so much detail in the story itself, and do check out the footnotes at the end for more information, and to appreciate the meticulous research and effort that went into this. But the quality doesn't end with the research. Kent State also packs an emotional punch as well. I nearly cried at the end, even though I knew what was coming. In addition, I thought Backderf did a commendable job with balancing the story from multiple viewpoints. No punches are pulled over the many, many mistakes and misinformation that led to this tragedy and plague Kent State and students in general, even decades later. I can't recommend this one enough.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Petergiaquinta

    Movingly effective in its depiction of the Vietnam War protests at Kent State which resulted in the National Guard killing four students there on May 4, 1970, as well as meticulously endnoted by its author, Derf Backderf’s graphic novel combines his research, art and story telling skills to recount the lives of the student protestors and the incompetence of the government institutions in responding to them which led to this campus tragedy. Backderf now has two great graphic novels under his belt, Movingly effective in its depiction of the Vietnam War protests at Kent State which resulted in the National Guard killing four students there on May 4, 1970, as well as meticulously endnoted by its author, Derf Backderf’s graphic novel combines his research, art and story telling skills to recount the lives of the student protestors and the incompetence of the government institutions in responding to them which led to this campus tragedy. Backderf now has two great graphic novels under his belt, both depicting in their own way the ugly brutality of America in the 1970s. If you haven’t gotten to it yet, Backderf’s earlier My Friend Dhamer is a must-read.

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