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Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State (edition 1970)

by Joe Eszterhas, Michael D. Roberts (Joint Author.)

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197537,190 (3.1)1
Member:rosalita
Title:Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State
Authors:Joe Eszterhas
Other authors:Michael D. Roberts (Joint Author.)
Info:New York : Dodd, Mead, [1970]
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Early Reviewers

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Thirteen seconds: Confrontation at Kent State by Joe Eszterhas

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I always find it interesting to read contemporaneous accounts of pivotal historical events. What the reader loses in perspective and analysis is gained in the sense of immediacy that such books written in the immediate aftermath provide. That is certainly the case with this book, co-written by Joe Eszterhas and Michael D. Roberts, who were reporters at the Cleveland Plain Dealer at the time of the Kent State shootings. Both reporters happened to be on campus on May 4, 1970, doing research into the ongoing unrest on campus when the shootings happened.

Thirteen Seconds was published just six months after the shootings, and it shows. The attempts to figure out exactly what happened in the days and moments immediately preceding the incident was just beginning, and this book does not have any definitive answers as to why or how the National Guard opened fire on unarmed student protesters. It does offer a tantalizing glimpse into how a year or more of student unrest on the Kent State campus, coupled with administration and law enforcement over-reactions to that unrest and the general public's alarm over the ongoing war in Vietnam and the "hippies" who seemed to sprout overnight on college campuses across the country, contributed to the feelings of tension on the fateful day. Roberts and Eszterhas do not shrink from reporting misbehavior by students, but it is clear that their sympathies lie with the younger generation — not surprising considering they were both in their mid-20s at the time.

Overall, this is a worthy read for anyone interested in learning more about Kent State. It is not the definitive history, but it's an important piece of the puzzle. ( )
3 vote rosalita | Jan 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I moved to Eastern Ohio in 1975, so I heard a lot about Kent State. I was only 14 1/2, but my impression then was the students got what they deserved. But that was just an impression, and I may have been very wrong, so when this book came up on the Early Reviewers list, I signed up to try to win a copy. I was very happy to find a link to it in my email inbox.

Originally published in 1970, shortly after the shootings, it attempts to present the facts as they were known at the time. Reporting is balanced. The book, as presented, seemed to capture the chaos of the time.

While I support freedom of speech and expression, I believe the students crossed far over the line of acceptable behavior (that's my general opinion of most 60's protests and current day Occupy Wall Street activities). It's one thing to verbally abuse anyone and a far different thing to throw rocks, demolish businesses, and burn down buildings.

As for the Guard, that situation was ripe for something bad to happen, and it did. The Guard were tired from covering the Teamsters strike and seemingly inexperienced in riot control. It sounded like they did not follow their procedures for this situation; thereby making the situation worse than it was.

The book captures the facts, and I'd recommend it for anyone curious about what happened at Kent State on May 4, 1970, including the activities leading up to the day and the days afterward. The authors put together a vignette on each of the students killed that day, and I couldn't help thinking, "What were you doing there!" It seems like it would have been so easy to just be somewhere else, but I suppose many were curious. ( )
  PolarBear | Jan 7, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State is a fine journalistic report of the Kent State shootings of its day. There are a number of "as of now"s that need updating or at least dating. It lacks photos or illustrations (at least the Kindle edition does). It fails to clarify facts; we have a commander's assertion that there was no more tear gas left against a trooper's assertion that he had tear gas left, without any statements later findings on the subject of just how much tear gas was left. It's certainly an excellent primary source, but I would hope there something better for the general audience that provides background and historical responses, incorporates findings and has illustrations of the matter.

It's a competent primary narrative of the events of those days. I think I'd rather a more modern work that zoomed out more, and was more careful to give history that may not have been needed then, and aftermath that postdates this book. There are occasional comments about "as of now" that should have been fixed or updated in the reprint, and at least the Kindle edition lacks illustrations.

I will note that the claim that nothing new has been discovered is false; for one, the Strubbe Tape was discovered in 2007 and gives evidence that an order to fire was given and that there were pistol shots fired a minute before the shooting started. It's certainly open to interpretation, but needs covering in any modern treatment of the subject.
  prosfilaes | Dec 13, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am a little perplexed by the purpose of the release of Thirteen Seconds as an Ebook. It was an interesting read in 1970 and remains one today. It provides a highly readable account of the events leading up to the Ohio National Guard killing four students at Kent State on May 4, 1970. The authors were (at the time) reporters for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and they have the reporters knack for describing events as well as combing through the “facts” known at the time of the shooting and in the period following. There is no doubt the NG troops were ill-trained and ill-prepared to deal with the students. The students misjudged how far the Guard leadership would go in putting down the campus demonstration and what the Guard perceived to be a near rebellion with “outside” help from the Weather Underground and other radicals. But their story remains frozen in time - no update to the story in the 40+ years since its original publication. One of the author’s claim that there have been no new revelations since the original reporting. I find that difficult to believe, but even if true, the book could have used an “epilogue” to an ending reported in 1970. ( )
  sherman1951 | Nov 10, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book brings back a lot of memories. Although I was a teenager at the time, I grew up near Kent and this book brings back memories. It is a somewhat jerky narrative but it made me feel the uncertainty and confusion of that time. As you look around you today, have things really improved?
  goodsew | Nov 5, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joe Eszterhasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, Michael D.main authorall editionsconfirmed
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