VIETNAM -- A VIEW FROM THE WALLS
A HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT
By Bob Fink
170 pp., 8½ x 11, softcover,
Illus., updates, many FBI Freedom-of-Info documents.
$25 U.S. postpaid.
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CONTENTS
 
Using posters on the walls of the author's city and university, and a collection of clippings, personal papers, photos, numerous FBI surveillance documents from the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, and a participant's narrative, this book tells the story of the mass anti-war movement that helped to end the U.S. involvement in Vietnam Excerpt below. The book is an art-work in itself, in its deliberate attempt to reproduce the materials exactly with the look and feel of the mimeographed and hand-made originals of the time. Some of the books were even tapped-in with original copies of flyers from the period. The pics on this page were from the times, used nationally, and drawn by the author.
The collection of materials is mostly selected from the anti-war movement's own records; but adding the "second eye" into the book, by using the FBI's "Red Squad" surveillance reports on the author, the movement, and on many of the same events, brings a kind of "stereoptical" effect to the history, giving it a life, drama and credibility that it could not have achieved using only one set of records.
The author was a student leader in the seizure of Wayne State University in only hours after the killing of students by the National Guard at Kent State University. Here is an excerpt from the book describing those events:
 
THE U.S. HAD INVADED CAMBODIA, and anti-war actions were being planned across the country on that issue. But now the radio was reporting that shootings had taken place at Kent State University. The initial AP wire story was run that two national guardsmen and two students were killed, and that one man was being held for questioning. At Kent State, witnesses were shocked by the inaccurate reports. We couldn't know in Detroit, and while anything was possible, it seemed really hard to believe that students were ready to use guns anywhere, much less at Kent State University.
But a short time later, we knew that four students had been killed, five others badly wounded, shot by guardsmen, and that one guardsman was injured by a rock. Vice President Agnew said then it would be "murder" if the guardsmen "fired without warning, and without having been fired upon." (The initial reports that students had fired may have been designed to get guardsmen off the legal hook, but that report never "took.") Yet, though Agnew's conditions for it being murder were met by the reality, the guardsmen were later acquitted.
We called a mass meeting on the university mall and went through the university, classroom by classroom, to announce the mall rally, and also informed students that the issue on the agenda was to close the university: "No business- as-usual" after the murders. It was a real strike. At the classrooms I interrupted, there usually followed immediate classroom discussion of the killings and the war, whether the class was math, physics, art, or whatever. Other responses varied from shock to near threats of violence from the teacher for daring to interrupt the holy sanctimony of his lecture on genetic infrastructures or religious symbolism in Ming Dynasty wall hangings.
At the mall, students gathered by the hundreds. In an adjacent building, with seats, we decided to conduct a permanently-continuing mass meeting and rally. Thousands of students came and went all day long. I took on chairing of the rally on the first day, and promised all factions and views a fair hearing in the discussion to come. Workshops were organized in nearby classrooms on everything from chemical warfare, history of the war, to morality, pacifism and the draft. Groups would return to the large assembly with resolutions for the mass rally to debate, approve, change or reject.
One decision involved re-opening the university immediately as an "anti-war university." University president Keast agreed to avoid any police presence, to close normal operations and re-open the schools on only war-related issues: The subject of "chemistry" was now the issue of "technology and warfare," or "the role of the scientist in society" and so on. This process began even before Keast had been approached. There was little choice. Much of the student body was already boycotting classes and hundreds were picketing the remaining classes all day long. Students had to confront picket lines midst chants of "No More Killing," "No More Kent States," "No More Business-As-Usual."
The mass assembly continued meeting for days; students slept on the floor, university mimeographs ran night and day non-stop; Hanoi was telephoned long distance and greetings sent from the student body. We organized our own "police force," and successfully prevented any "romantic adventures" or destruction. All over the country, the same was happening at other universities. We knew the police and its agents were hoping for (or even trying to cause) violence. This would give them the excuse they wanted to disband us. Our plans for demonstrations caused rumors that the pro-war group, Breakthrough, would be there with concealed knives. We told the police beforehand that we intended to conduct a peaceful protest, that we knew the rumors were to try to get us to arm (and then be liable for arrest) . We demanded that the police do their job and safeguard the right of peaceful assembly and dissent, and prevent any violence from being done to us. We also organized and trained our parade marshalls to perform this job of self-defence (if necessary) as well.
The Detroit community received educational information on the history and nature of war that it had never known. The barrier between the "ivory-tower" isolated university and the immediate working-class neighborhood began to be broken. The mass media tended to ignore the university. It was "closed," right? But despite this, for once in history, the university, instead of serving business, government and the military establishments, was now doing its job: trying to inform, teach [and learn from] the whole town as much as possible. [End of excerpt.]
 
The Author, as a student at Wayne State University, also composed a musical opera [Lysistrata and the War] to protest the war, but shortly before its debut, the director feared the controversy of the opera's content, and the opera was cancelled.
 
-------------------REVIEWS--------------------
 
If the author were to write another book "to document his (current) experiences, as he does the anti-Vietnam War episodes (and) if Vietnam -- A View from the Walls can be taken as precedence, the book will be absolutely fascinating."
-- Jim Sutherland, in The Sheaf
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"After all the revelations and recriminations about one of the ugliest periods in U.S. history -- the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, the resignation of a president -- a jaded public in both Canada and the U.S. may have thought they heard it all. But (this book) introduces a personal dimension that is startling."
Verne Clemence -- Accent on Books, Star-Phoenix
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"This is a useful source-book on the Vietnam anti-war movement...."
-- Indo-China Chronology, Institute of East Asian Studies, U. of Cal., Berkeley.


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