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Dreams Gone Wrong: Peace, War, and Murder At Michigan State University Paperback – December 3, 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lingg Brewer was born and raised in a strong blue-collar neighborhood on Lansing, Michigan's east side. For better or for worse, he was a product of the Lansing Public School System. He attended Lansing Community College and graduated from Michigan State University in the turbulent sixties. He did graduate work in political science at California State University, Los Angeles. Lingg hitchhiked around the United State several times throughout his youth; he has worked as a tree trimmer, auto worker, truck driver, reporter for Variety magazine in Hollywood, California, college professor, Ingham County elected official, member of the State of Michigan Legislature, and as a small real estate developer. He knew most of the people involved in the stories shared in Dreams Gone Wrong quite well and was a good friend to two that died young. He knew nothing about Michigan State University (MSU) President John Hannah and Professor Wesley Fishel's involvement with MSU in Vietnam at the time. Lingg played just enough poker to realize he wasn't a player and spent enough time in card rooms to know he ought to stay away from them. His biggest gambles were political, where he mortgaged his home to run for his first office. He's had some winners and some losers since then. Politics was, and is, his first love. He has a profound respect for many of the people, all of the political institutions, and the process, despite popular opinion to the contrary. Lingg resides in Ingham County, Michigan in the same farmhouse where he raised his four children, Angela, Gideon, Katherine and Miriam, with his former wife, Marjorie. He plays with old cars and old motorcycles in his spare time.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Lingg Brewer; 1 edition (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0991042409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0991042401
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,495,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book clearly outlines Michigan State University's involvement with the Diems in Viet Nam and the period after their demise, something I was only remotely aware of even though I served in Saigon from 1967-68. It also details the life of one Rick Fowler, a former neighbor, whom I knew died in a shootout over gambling in his home, but which I did not know the particulars of. I liked this book and would recommend it as something that fills in the blanks during this period of history in Central Michigan. Many of the people named attended East Lansing High School with me in the early 1960s and I appreciated knowing some of the details that Lingg Brewer presents. This book could have undergone a stronger editing job would be my only criticism.
Charles Chauncey Wells,
Historian & Author
Oak Park, IL 60302
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lingg Brewer is a fascinating guy, active in Lansing area politics for decades. Full disclosure - he is a friend of sorts, and as he was researching the book I told him he should check out the words of the late Milton Muelder, who was a dean of science (and other roles) at MSU as John Hannah took Michigan State from a farm school to a world class university. Milt was tasked with taking MSU from MSC to a serious research university. That is the good news. The bad news is that president Hannah got MSU entangled with the CIA during the Vietnam war. This book manages to tell that story, and the various cultural revolutions of the 60s, and death at a poker party, all in one tome. It is quite well written and entertaining, but has lot of threads to follow. Anyone with Michigan State connections, especially those who follow its history or were part of it, should read it. Others who lived through the 60s and its politics should as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Disclosure, Mr. Brewer is my father-in-law (despite any ad hominem attacks, I personally vouch that he does have four wonderful children). I agree with some comments that the work could have gone through a few more drafts to delineate the story lines, but it does contain an incredible amount of not-widely-discussed details about America's transitioning from post WWII prosperity to the Vietnam War. As other commentators have noted, the book particularly captures one point of origin for American involvement in the Vietnam War through the intertwined ambitions of the CIA and MSU's administration and faculty.

The book disrupts some stereotypes of the fifties and sixties for those not alive then in regards to how the seedier sides of life expressed themselves within the better people of Lansing, Michigan, and how some of those people likewise affected MSU's involvement in the Vietnam War. The book also provides an interesting account of the larger political conflict emerging between the radical and puritanical factions of American society at that time, especially from an American mid-western perspective.

Lastly, the book weaves within that larger story interesting details of the American auto industry and how it affected American policy at that time, particularly through Michigan state culture that fed MSU's ambitions to be a major research university.

Reading this book will provide you with an understanding of a particular American cultural development that helped lead America into the Vietnam War, and allow you to draw a larger understanding of the strange relationship between America and Vietnam during that place and time while getting a few shocking stories in the process.
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Format: Paperback
If you are someone who was involved in any of the activities mentioned in this book, as I was, you will find it interesting to read about your friends and the activities of this time period. (The star character, John Eric "Rick" Fowler, was a good friend of mine.) On the other hand, there is quite a bit of material here which does not appear to be so well-researched, including how to spell the names of the people involved. But there is no question that the overall picture of MSU in the sixties and early seventies was not what the average person would picture as university life. Far from it. THere was much more crime and gambling in East Lansing than as at U of M or the typical college. The overall picture given by the book is quite accurate.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would never have expected Lingg Brewer to write anything this interesting, coherent, or useful. He held various local elected offices in the Lansing area between 1974 and 2002, and mainly distinguished himself by being a bully, a hothead, and a general pain. But I'm reviewing the book, not the author.

I doubt this work will find much of a market outside the circle of people who are already somewhat familiar with the microcosm that was Lansing between 1960 and 1985. I may be wrong, but I don't think it will be possible for an outsider to acquire enough detail from this book to appreciate the details and shading Lingg has created.

But as a person who knew many of the figures Lingg portrays, I found myself eagerly plowing through the pages, and finding something of real interest on almost every one of them. I have thought of myself as a local historian, but Lingg has changed my understanding of dozens of local figures, drawing them together in unexpected ways, or reminding me of nearly forgotten events which illuminated those people. Even when he strays from the local scene, and delivers his brief history of the roots of the Viet Nam War, he performs far better than I expected. I kept waiting for the angry crackpot I know to show through the text, but I never spotted him.

I might almost think the book was ghost-written, but the truth must be that Lingg's literary self is completely different than the arrogant jerk who held the office of County Clerk from 1976 until 1992, getting into stupid fights with everybody around him. The fact that the author and the jerk must have have been contending inside the same skull is something between miraculous and bizarre.
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