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Four Dead in Ohio: Was There a Conspiracy at Kent State? Paperback – March 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Revised for the 25th anniversary of the Kent State murders, Gordon's book probes for the answers behind the May 4, 1970, slaying of four students by National Guardsmen during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A compelling, highly readable analysis of the shooting, the cover-ups that followed, and the complex legal battles that surrounded the 1970 killings of four students by National Guardsmen at Kent State . . . Gordon systematically addresses the major unresolved questions of who did what and why in a manner that brings more clarity to this controversial historical tragedy than any other work to date . . . reads like a whodunit . . . As entertaining as the best detective fiction and as analytical and well documented as the best journalism or scholarship. -- Choice magazine
Balanced and thorough--and as close to the last word as anyone has come so far. -- Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron
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Top Customer Reviews
First, Grin claimed I did not answer the question: "Was there a conspiracy at Kent State?" Actually, my chapter on the shootings re-examined Peter Davies' argument that there was such a conspiracy existed, and on page 63 I argued there probably was not a conspiracy. The noise level and the limited amount of time the Guardsmen had to converse amongst themselves were two of the reasons I doubted the enlisted men could have decided to shoot the students.
From there I re-examined a similar question: "Could an order to fire been issued by one of the commanding officers on the scene?" Drawing on new testimony produced by the trials, including some pretty damning grand jury transcripts that were read into the record but never shown to the jurors, I weighed the claims made by various eyewitnesses to the shootings. Some of the witnesses suggested the order to fire was given by Sergeant Myron J. Pryor, who, according to two former soldier eyewitnesses, allegedly tapped the three or four Guardsmen closest to him and pointed to designated targets. Others thought they saw Major Harry Jones make a motioning signal before the Guardsmen turned and fired. Jones was basically directing traffic with a baton that, in violation of Guard regulations, was not standard Guard equipment.
Even though there were more witnesses against Jones, and Jones was less than forthcoming under oath, I pointed out several reasons to give him the benefit (such as one Guardsman's story that Jones was angry at the shooters). The accusations against Pryor made much more sense to me, and I hinted that he was the most likely candidate to have given a localized order to fire.
Secondly, I was taken aback by Grin's claim that I used a diagram that was not to scale and which gave a distorted picture of the scene. His claim makes no sense. The diagram was originally published in the Akron Beacon Journal and it accurately reconstructs the Guardsmen's movements and the distances between the victims and the firing line. The Guardsmen are all pointed in the right direction, and the buildings are all basically in the right places, so I have no idea why Grin (whoever he is) would make such a vague, fuzzy and unsubstantiated claim.
What irritated me the most, though, was Grin's suggestion that my decision to reprint the Beacon Journal's diagram somehow raises a question about the overall reliability of my research. Even if there was any merit to Grin's argument, to jump from a diagram to a sweeping claim about the overall reliability of my book is a non sequitur. It is also utter, utter nonsense.
One of the things I am most proud of is that in the 16 years since my book was published, no one--not a single journalist, scholar, or groupie--has been able to identify any errors of fact (either significant or nitpicking).
People may disagree with the conclusions I reached, but no one can honestly say I misquoted anyone, got basic facts wrong, or was less than conscientious with the material at hand.
One or two concerns with this book: The map on the inside cover has a differing location of the various victims than other books. In fact, photographs SHOW different figures laying or falling in different spots. (In fact, many of the books differ between themselves on where the four fell. I don't understand how and why this happened yet....)
I also enjoyed Davis' book alot, as it has SO MANY photos.. I find I flip back and forth to Davis' book to cross check things.
As with other books that were published earlier, the Kent State story continues to unfold... see other reviewers for further developments that have happened since publication. Perhaps another edition with updates and corrections is in order:
**This book is criticized by some "who were there," as it does not promote their agenda. (But then everyone has attempted to spin May Fourth to their advantage.) If there are factual errors, I did not spot them on the first reading. I enjoyed this book, despite the criticism. But, perhaps the best view is gained by reading MANY authors and MANY points of view. That's why I continue to seek them out...and to question their points of view with people who were on campus then. Inquire, reflect, learn.
I know I did. And I'm still searching out others....
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An updated e-book version with a new preface and a new appendix was released in 2015 .Read more