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Resister: A Story of Protest and Prison…

Resister: A Story of Protest and Prison during the Vietnam War

by Bruce Dancis

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Bruce Dancis was at the heart of the anti-draft movement at Cornell University during the war in Vietnam—and Cornell was one of the hot spots of that resistance. This memoir tells the story of those times in remarkable detail: recounting not just what happened, but how things happened, not just the moments of exhilaration, but also the difficult struggles and dialogues within the movement. As a man of principle, he recalls his ethical wrestling at that time without becoming pompous.

I was in grade school during the war in Vietnam, so I have a strange sort of nostalgia for that period. I wasn’t really old enough to be a part of the war resistance movement, and I didn’t actually know that much about it, but I was convinced of its rightness and wished I could contribute to it. My nostalgia is a sort of sidelines thing, a longing not for what I once did, but for a time I just missed participating in. As a result, I’m always glad to find memoirs from the period, particularly ones like this that combine narration and reflection so effectively.

Because of the level of detail, this isn’t a quick read, but its thoroughness adds considerably to its value. Dancis did extensive research, among his own papers, in traditional academic venues, and via interviews before he wrote this book, so it’s a particularly precise memoir that reads as history as well as personal story. If you’re a reader like me, who tends to “graze” from several books at once, this makes an excellent addition to the pile, a book to turn to when the truths of fiction don’t seem quite true enough. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Mar 10, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0801452422, Hardcover)

Bruce Dancis arrived at Cornell University in 1965 as a youth who was no stranger to political action. He grew up in a radical household and took part in the 1963 March on Washington as a fifteen-year-old. He became the first student at Cornell to defy the draft by tearing up his draft card and soon became a leader of the draft resistance movement. He also turned down a student deferment and refused induction into the armed services. He was the principal organizer of the first mass draft card burning during the Vietnam War, an activist in the Resistance (a nationwide organization against the draft), and a cofounder and president of the Cornell chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Dancis spent nineteen months in federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky, for his actions against the draft.

In Resister, Dancis not only gives readers an insider's account of the antiwar and student protest movements of the sixties but also provides a rare look at the prison experiences of Vietnam-era draft resisters. Intertwining memory, reflection, and history, Dancis offers an engaging firsthand account of some of the era’s most iconic events, including the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Abbie Hoffman-led "hippie invasion" of the New York Stock Exchange, the antiwar confrontation at the Pentagon in 1967, and the dangerous controversy that erupted at Cornell in 1969 involving African American students, their SDS allies, and the administration and faculty. Along the way, Dancis also explores the relationship between the topical folk and rock music of the era and the political and cultural rebels who sought to change American society.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:51 -0400)

Offers an insider's account of the antiwar and student protest movements of the sixties as well as a look at the prison experiences of Vietnam-era draft resisters.

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