Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties
By Bruce Hyland (reviewer)
Kent State: Death and Dissent In The Long Sixties
by Thomas M. Grace
(University of Massachusetts Press, 2016)
Thomas M. Grace, historian, scholar, professor, social worker, labor union leader, student, and shooting victim at Kent State May 4, 1970, has now written an all important historical chronology concerning student activism at Kent State University during The Long Sixties. The book, like the term "The Long Sixties," focuses on the period of the late 1950's through the early 1970's dispelling the myth of dissent and activism dying on May 4, 1970.
The book prologue and early chapters provide a great overview of the Labor Union, and Civil Rights movements. Then into the Anti-War activism during this period of history in Kent, Ohio. Tom Grace's fine abilities as a historian, and a former Kent State student allow him to provide in magnificent detail the specifics of these movements, and various activism of this time and place. The book not only provides much information on individual historical events, but tells the story of the people connected to them.
The middle chapters of the book start the heavier focus on the Vietnam War, Black Student Movement, Students for a Democratic Society, New and Old left groups, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and other factions. A rich analysis of these various groups' activism, and student dissent in the cause of social justice is juxtaposed to state reaction. Tom Grace recounts his own personal experiences, along with others from the period including May 1 through 4, 1970. Those VVAW members who maybe don't know the whole Long Sixties history at Kent State, and the VVAW connection, I believe will find the book quite illuminating.
The later chapters of the book cover the all important aftermath years of May 4, 1970. The aftermath coverage along with the great early historical information, and middle analytical research is what makes this book pre-eminent on this subject matter in my opinion. The later chapters also continue to look at Student and VVAW activism as the Vietnam War moves toward its bloody conclusion. So much interesting historical ground from that era is covered by this book, a review is hard to do it justice.
This important scholarly work is not only a informative read for all wanting to learn more of this time in our country's history. It is a most valuable learning tool for our High Schools, Colleges, and University's. I encourage all who are interested in this history, and even those who are not, to read this book. You will not be disappointed.
Bruce Hyland was an Honor Guard Co 1/3 US Infantry Regiment TOG USA.