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13 Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings

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Thirteen seconds passed. Sixty-seven shots were fired. One nation watched . . . On May 4, 1970, Ohio's Kent State University was in chaos following President Richard Nixon's announcement that the U.S. bombing of Cambodia would continue, with student protesters on one side and the National Guard on the other. That day, young Chicago Tribune reporter Philip Caputo had been Thirteen seconds passed. Sixty-seven shots were fired. One nation watched . . . On May 4, 1970, Ohio's Kent State University was in chaos following President Richard Nixon's announcement that the U.S. bombing of Cambodia would continue, with student protesters on one side and the National Guard on the other. That day, young Chicago Tribune reporter Philip Caputo had been sent to the campus to cover what looked like just another student uprising. But by the time he arrived, things had erupted into one of the watershed moments of the antiwar movement, with four students dead and nine wounded in a hail of bullets fired by panicked guardsmen. Now, thirty-five years later, the author of A Rumor of War looks back on that terrible day, discussing his own emotions, the nature of political discourse and civil disobedience, and what happened to those who were there and how they still live with the pain and anger every day. It was a time when America turned upon itself and our nation's innocence was lost.


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Thirteen seconds passed. Sixty-seven shots were fired. One nation watched . . . On May 4, 1970, Ohio's Kent State University was in chaos following President Richard Nixon's announcement that the U.S. bombing of Cambodia would continue, with student protesters on one side and the National Guard on the other. That day, young Chicago Tribune reporter Philip Caputo had been Thirteen seconds passed. Sixty-seven shots were fired. One nation watched . . . On May 4, 1970, Ohio's Kent State University was in chaos following President Richard Nixon's announcement that the U.S. bombing of Cambodia would continue, with student protesters on one side and the National Guard on the other. That day, young Chicago Tribune reporter Philip Caputo had been sent to the campus to cover what looked like just another student uprising. But by the time he arrived, things had erupted into one of the watershed moments of the antiwar movement, with four students dead and nine wounded in a hail of bullets fired by panicked guardsmen. Now, thirty-five years later, the author of A Rumor of War looks back on that terrible day, discussing his own emotions, the nature of political discourse and civil disobedience, and what happened to those who were there and how they still live with the pain and anger every day. It was a time when America turned upon itself and our nation's innocence was lost.

30 review for 13 Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robert Case

    Events like Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon, the assassinations of JFK and then, MLK, stand out like milestones in the river of history. The massacre at Kent State falls into the same category. I was a senior in high school on May 4th, 1970. I lived with my family lived just down the road in Akron, Ohio. It was the most popular murder ever committed in the USA, at least in my lifetime. I have read other books by Philip Caputo and enjoy his storytelling style. He was a young reporter covering th Events like Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon, the assassinations of JFK and then, MLK, stand out like milestones in the river of history. The massacre at Kent State falls into the same category. I was a senior in high school on May 4th, 1970. I lived with my family lived just down the road in Akron, Ohio. It was the most popular murder ever committed in the USA, at least in my lifetime. I have read other books by Philip Caputo and enjoy his storytelling style. He was a young reporter covering the Kent State story for the Chicago Tribune and arrived on scene shortly after the smoke cleared. My only problem with his book is that it is too quick a read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    As far as chronological event books go, this was a good one. We ran a 5-K race through the campus a couple months ago and ran right past the memorial as well as the parking lot where the fallen bodes are marked. I knew enough about the event to want to know more and have read Caputo's work before, so I thought I'd try it. What you get is an unbiased, complete look at what happened. He explains all possible scenarios and discusses the cause and effect of them all too. He refuses to take a side al As far as chronological event books go, this was a good one. We ran a 5-K race through the campus a couple months ago and ran right past the memorial as well as the parking lot where the fallen bodes are marked. I knew enough about the event to want to know more and have read Caputo's work before, so I thought I'd try it. What you get is an unbiased, complete look at what happened. He explains all possible scenarios and discusses the cause and effect of them all too. He refuses to take a side although I think he'd honestly say he was with the students. Therefore, he is able to paint a very honest and again, unbiased view of how this tragedy happened. Whether you think the students started it or it was the Weather Underground or whether the guards were at fault, you'll find evidence to support your theory here. Another really interesting item was his comparisons between this and the Boston Massacre. The similarities are eerie but they are also right on. I recommend reading this book for anyone who wants to learn more about a dark event in United States history, as Caputo explains, the only time in American history that American troops shot and kills american students..

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Suwak

    I thought this book was phenomenal. Many books are dense with information. Many books are written by a true wordsmith. This book is that rare thing: a combination of the two. The book is rather slim so serious scholars would likely have to augment this with other readings. However, every single line in here counts, both poetically and informatively. Caputo was reporting when these events happened. His reporting here is objective and measured, and he delegates some degree of blame to all parties, I thought this book was phenomenal. Many books are dense with information. Many books are written by a true wordsmith. This book is that rare thing: a combination of the two. The book is rather slim so serious scholars would likely have to augment this with other readings. However, every single line in here counts, both poetically and informatively. Caputo was reporting when these events happened. His reporting here is objective and measured, and he delegates some degree of blame to all parties, but he still sets these words on fire with his passion. he feels strongly about what went down. I think that, perhaps, the most moving part of the book is not when Caputo is looking back, but when he's talking about today, about the lessons we should be taking away and applying. That's where his real heart for the whole thing really comes to the fore. I admire this book on many levels. Totally amped up after finishing it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    S.J. Tyson

    Philip Caputo, the author of this book, was a reporter with the Chicago Tribune covering student unrest on May 4, 1970, when the shootings at Kent State occurred. He gives his impressions of he saw and heard on that day, as well as providing a timeline of occurrences that happened before and after the incident, including investigations and lawsuits. This is a good "starter" book for anyone interested in learning what happened at Kent State on that day, though after having previously read "Kent S Philip Caputo, the author of this book, was a reporter with the Chicago Tribune covering student unrest on May 4, 1970, when the shootings at Kent State occurred. He gives his impressions of he saw and heard on that day, as well as providing a timeline of occurrences that happened before and after the incident, including investigations and lawsuits. This is a good "starter" book for anyone interested in learning what happened at Kent State on that day, though after having previously read "Kent State" by James Michener, I have to say this book pales in comparison. If you really want a thorough description of what was happening on the campus prior to, during and after the shootings, I would stick with Michener's book. However, this book does give you a basic idea of what happened and why, from someone who was there that day.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie

    I’m a big Caputo fan, but I found this book disappointing. It was a good factual presentation of the events pre and post shooting, and contained a very detailed timeline, but that was 90% of the book—a recitation of facts. As someone who considers Kent State a major event in my life, I was expecting more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Owen

    Have you heard of the Kent State shootings? People sometimes call it a modern day Boston Massacre. In the book 13 Seconds, by Philip Caputo, you learn all about the Kent State shootings. Philip was a young reporter at the time, and he heard all about them. He wrote this book, which tells you all about them and what happened after, and mainly before them. The book is mainly informative, and moving, but not written the best. The Kent State shooting were a tragic event, and after a big town riot, Have you heard of the Kent State shootings? People sometimes call it a modern day Boston Massacre. In the book 13 Seconds, by Philip Caputo, you learn all about the Kent State shootings. Philip was a young reporter at the time, and he heard all about them. He wrote this book, which tells you all about them and what happened after, and mainly before them. The book is mainly informative, and moving, but not written the best. The Kent State shooting were a tragic event, and after a big town riot, where Kent State university students destroyed $10,000 of property, the National Guard were called in, as the police could not contain the deaths. The guard patrolled the school, and many students did not like this. The started to protest, and eventually were asked to stop, but the did not. Some students were throwing things, like pebbles, or as the guardsmen said, large stones and lethal objects, which was not the reality. Then the guards opened fire. It was never known for sure whether an order to fire was given or not, btu Caputo using evidence, believes there was. But, the guardsmen fired, whether the students were protesting or not. 4 were killed, and 9 wounded. All randomly chosen except one. A kid named joseph was 60 ft away, the closest of them all, and he was flipping off the guards, and the sergeant shot him in the stomach. Four people died, one of them was simply walking to class, an almost straight A student. 13 casualties. 13 seconds. Overall, the book was fine, and I did like it, because it tells us about one of the most important events in our history that not many people know about. It’s not the best written book, as this book is mainly to inform you, and this makes this book a different kind of book. But for its type, it is well written, and it contains plenty of information for you. What this book does really well is gives you a way to connect with the 4 who were killed. This is a very important book for people to read, as the event is so important, and I would encourage others to learn about this. Overall, this might not be the best book, but it’s still a great and important book that I encourage others to read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    This book adds virtually nothing to the body of literature already out there on the Kent State Massacre. Though the criticism seemed petty when I first heard it, the fact that Caputo calls Portage County "Porter County" in the context of the book is really lame. It smacks of a lack of familiarity with the area (or a 10 second Google search), and a rush to publish this book in time to capitalize on the 35th anniversary of May 4th in 2005 (the book came out just before then). The reason why I give This book adds virtually nothing to the body of literature already out there on the Kent State Massacre. Though the criticism seemed petty when I first heard it, the fact that Caputo calls Portage County "Porter County" in the context of the book is really lame. It smacks of a lack of familiarity with the area (or a 10 second Google search), and a rush to publish this book in time to capitalize on the 35th anniversary of May 4th in 2005 (the book came out just before then). The reason why I give this book 3 stars instead of 1 is its appendix. There are compiled, together in one convenient place, the original text of a number of relevant documents like the report of Nixon's Presidential Commision on Campus Unrest (1970), which I found surprisingly better than expected. But that was merely a pleasant surprise after a pretty disappointing book, and those documents could easily be obtained elsewhere for less money. The book is not worth buying for them; maybe borrowing from your public library.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    I decided to read this book because I've been having trouble finding a decent copy of James Michener's 1971 account of the Kent State shootings. I'm still on the lookout for Michener's book, which for some reason is out-of-print. Meanwhile I'll offer a quick review of Caputo's *13 Seconds*. Caputo's book is slim and very skimpy, with not much to offer: First, a brief (barely 100 pages) recap of the Kent State incident and its aftermath, interspersed with Caputo's memories of reporting on it for t I decided to read this book because I've been having trouble finding a decent copy of James Michener's 1971 account of the Kent State shootings. I'm still on the lookout for Michener's book, which for some reason is out-of-print. Meanwhile I'll offer a quick review of Caputo's *13 Seconds*. Caputo's book is slim and very skimpy, with not much to offer: First, a brief (barely 100 pages) recap of the Kent State incident and its aftermath, interspersed with Caputo's memories of reporting on it for the Chicago Tribune newspaper. Second, a chronology of the incident, with basic background and follow-up information. Third, a documentary film on DVD. Although the DVD isn't new (it was originally telecast on The Learning Channel in the year 2000), it features some fascinating must-see historical video footage and interviews with students, National Guardsmen, and other eyewitnesses. But overall, the whole project is -- once again -- very skimpy. Final grade: Two stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tom Mueller

    A DVD is included, covering much of the immediate History surrounding the Kent State "event". Interviews with those on both sides, and those in the middle. Engrossing; i would suggest this for any high school - and above - curriculum that deals with 20th Century History, OR political unrest, Vietnam protest . . . A DVD is included, covering much of the immediate History surrounding the Kent State "event". Interviews with those on both sides, and those in the middle. Engrossing; i would suggest this for any high school - and above - curriculum that deals with 20th Century History, OR political unrest, Vietnam protest . . .

  10. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    http://randomthoughtsescaping.blogspo... http://randomthoughtsescaping.blogspo...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bandra

    Intense.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elissa Macarin

    I went to Kent State and wanted to know more about the history of the May 4, 1970, shootings

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ed

  14. 4 out of 5

    Guadalupe Tellez

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dick Muir

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ulinski

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Krista

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ian Hurlburt

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Denice Bruce

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bill Cameron

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Cawiezell

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eric Schlehlein

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brett Van emst

  28. 5 out of 5

    Judy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bill

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