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Kent State : four dead in Ohio
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A commemorative 50th anniversary graphic-novel account of the May 4, 1970 shootings of Vietnam War college student protesters by the Ohio National Guard draws on in-depth interviews to profile the tragedy’s four victims. By the award-winning author of Trashed. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

"A commemorative 50th anniversary graphic-novel account of the May 4, 1970 shootings of Vietnam War college student protesters by the Ohio National Guard draws on in-depth interviews to profile the tragedy's four victims"--Provided by publisher. - (Baker & Taylor)


A 2021 ALA/YALSA Alex Award Winner for Teen Readers and Adult Books

From Derf Backderf, the bestselling author of My Friend Dahmer, comes the tragic and unforgettable story of the Kent State shootings?
On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In a deadly barrage of 67 shots, 4 students were killed and 9 shot and wounded. It was the day America turned guns on its own children&;a shocking event burned into our national memory. A few days prior, 10-year-old Derf Backderf saw those same Guardsmen patrolling his nearby hometown, sent in by the governor to crush a trucker strike. Using the journalism skills he employed on My Friend Dahmer and Trashed, Backderf has conducted extensive interviews and research to explore the lives of these four young people and the events of those four days in May, when the country seemed on the brink of tearing apart. Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, which will be published in time for the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, is a moving and troubling story about the bitter price of dissent&;as relevant today as it was in 1970.
  - (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.)

Author Biography

Derf Backderf is the bestselling, award-winning author of My Friend Dahmer and Trashed. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
  - (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.)

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Booklist Reviews

May, 2020, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy at Kent State University, in which the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four unarmed college students during a Vietnam War protest. Cartoonist Backderf meticulously recreates the events leading up to the slaughter in this graphic account based on extensive research and his own interviews. Most of his focus—and sympathy—is on the victims and their largely mundane activities in the days before the confrontation, but he also follows the lives of the guardsmen, law enforcement agents, and politicians responsible for the shooting, which roiled the nation and exacerbated its deep political divisions. Backderf, who started out in the ‘90s as a punkish provocateur in alternative newspapers, has more recently demonstrated impressive journalism chops and a sensitive eye in such acclaimed works as My Friend Dahmer (2012) and Trashed (2015). His somewhat grotesque drawing style is reigned in here, as is befitting the somber nature of the project. The result, while remaining visually distinctive, vividly conveys the tragic events. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

Backderf (Trashed) here relies on meticulous research to re-create the horrific National Guard occupation of the Kent State University campus in May 1970. Fears that student radicals might be preparing to rise up in armed insurrection are inflamed after a group incensed by the invasion of Cambodia riots on the evening of May 1, leading to a State of Emergency being declared. A protest outside the campus ROTC headquarters the following evening ends with a campus-wide lockdown by the National Guard. A sit-in to protest the occupation the next afternoon results in the students being beaten and bayoneted. By the afternoon of May 4, some students are eager to join a rally against the Guardsmen, some are too scared, others simply want everything to blow over so they can resume their normal lives. By the end of the day, exhausted and terrified National Guardsmen operating under orders from inept leaders will kill four and wound nine others. VERDICT An incendiary corrective to the myths and misconceptions surrounding these events and a memorial to the lives lost or forever altered that should be required reading for all Americans.

Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Backderf (My Friend Dahmer) delivers a provocative, heartbreaking account of the days leading up to the infamous tragedy of May 1970, in which National Guardsmen killed four unarmed students and injured nine others at a Vietnam War protest on the Kent State University campus. Backderf conducted extensive research to explore the lives of the four students, revealing their hopes and dreams for the future—portraits that sharply rebut the politically motivated smears politicians and media outlets inflicted upon them after the incident. Though wholly sympathetic to the student protestors, Backderf also takes care to report the grueling conditions the National Guardsmen were forced to endure; their lack of training for de-escalation versus battlefield deployment; and the failings of leaders such as Ohio governor Jim Rhodes (a Nixon loyalist) and Gen. Robert Canterbury. Both men's anger and paranoia toward antiwar activists stoked their emotion-driven directives to the exhausted, agitated guardsmen and fueled an already highly volatile situation. Backderf's tightly drawn, muscular figures and busy layouts anchored by choice period details are consistent with his established style, with flourishes (from hairstyles to smirks) that individualize the ensemble cast. His expertly crafted chronicle of this defining moment in U.S. history serves as a deeply moving elegy for the victims. Readers may also draw from it sobering parallels to the deep divisions of contemporary times, again dangerously rife with media noise and misinformation muddying the waters. (Apr.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—In the midst of the divisive Vietnam War, Ohio's Kent State University was a haven for free thinkers and creatives who were fed up with compulsory enlistment and didn't believe that the United States' military involvement in Vietnam was about "keeping Communism at bay." On April 30, 1970, Nixon informed the nation that the United States would be invading Cambodia and that the war would ramp up instead of winding down. Protests were organized, including one at Kent State, prompting chaos and violence. The mayor of Kent begged the governor to send in the Ohio National Guard, and two days later, as the smoke cleared, four unarmed young college students lay dead and more than half a dozen were seriously injured. Compiling firsthand accounts, interviews, news articles, and photographs, Backderf skillfully recounts almost by the hour everything that occurred between Nixon's announcement and the aftermath of the shooting. The amount of text is a little daunting at times, but readers will be riveted by the black-and-white comics and strong linework. Revealing malice, panic, fear, and frustration, Backderf's depictions of people tell the story as powerfully as any eyewitness and will make readers crave even more information. VERDICT Fans of the author's My Friend Dahmer won't be disappointed. Students learning about the Vietnam War will find this vivid exploration of history a welcome supplement to dry textbooks.—Michael Marie Jacobs, Darlington School, GA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

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