First Book on Kent State Shootings Re-Released
Still Accurate, Still Relevant, Authors Say
Cleveland, OH--The first book about the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State University is now available as an ebook after being out of print for 40 years.
"Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State," by Joe Eszterhas and Michael D. Roberts, is a detailed narrative of events that shook the nation on May 4, 1970 when a 13-second burst of gunfire transformed the campus of Kent State University into a national nightmare. The authors say the book still stands as an accurate account and delivers a message about the destructive results of divisive politics that is relevant today.
Eszterhas and Roberts were young reporters at the Cleveland Plain Dealer when news broke that the Ohio National Guard had fired on student protesters at nearby Kent State University. They rushed to the campus to cover the event, then spent four months gathering first-person accounts from students, National Guardsmen, parents, school and government officials, and members of the local community. Working as a team, they documented the buildup of tension leading to the shootings, reconstructed the events of the fateful day, and investigated local and national responses in the aftermath. Their 80,000-word book was published in October, 1970.
"Thirteen Seconds" received initial positive attention (Eszterhas recalls Jane Fonda holding the book up on television and exhorting people to read it), but it was soon overshadowed in the news media by the publication of another book on the subject--by famous novelist and nonfiction author James Michener.
Michener's book, "Kent State: What Happened and Why," was well received nationally, but some readers in Northeast Ohio thought it sided too much with the National Guard. Eszterhas and Roberts publicly disputed Michener's version of the events in a 1971 article they wrote for "Progressive" and in a confrontational TV appearance with Michener on the "Today Show."
In his preface to the ebook edition of "Thirteen Seconds," Eszterhas says of Michener's book: "[It] was the Nixon’s administration’s whitewash, written by a man with close ties to the Republican Party and the Nixon administration. The book was an obscene attempt to put the blame for the deaths on the victims themselves: the dead kids."
Roberts believes the reporting in "Thirteen Seconds" stands up more than 40 years later. In his preface to the ebook edition, he writes: "Over the years, that fateful day has been revisited in seminars, articles, memorials, investigations, and government inquiries. In that time, no major revelation has come to light that would alter the facts in this book."
Eszterhas said the book delivers a message still relevant in our present political climate: "One of the great lessons of the horror at Kent State is that inflammatory political rhetoric, divisive and polarizing propaganda, can lead to violence and death. I think it is worthwhile to keep that lesson in mind."
"Thirteen Seconds" was the first book for both Eszterhas and Roberts. Roberts later became the city editor for The Plain Dealer and was one of the founders of Cleveland Magazine. He now operates a public relations firm. Eszterhas became a highly successful Hollywood screenwriter and the author of several books, including "Hollywood Animal" and "Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith." Both live in Northeast Ohio.
The e-book edition of "Thirteen Seconds" is available from all major ebook retailers. For more information, visit www.grayco.com
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