This excellent history tells of students protests, anti-war activities and divisive politics from 1963-1972 at four large public universities: Michigan State, Kent State, State University of New York at Buffalo and Penn State. The story of each institution during the Sixties is told effectively and efficiently. The book could be longer; it could be much longer. The stories at those Universities become mingled with references to events at other universities as issues become national. (Kent State killings. What was said to the family of Allison Krause after her death was as deplorable then as it is today.)
The author, Heineman, dismisses the image that anti-war protests and riots in Berkeley and on the East Coast were the most significant demonstrations against the Vietnam War. The big-named University palaces were safeguarded against the very violent tendencies and emotions at Mid-West universities, the cauldron for anti-war protests. Heineman points out further that Kent State had and resolved an issue of Free Speech in 1963 in discussions with an enlightened university administration which had read the Constitution. That was a year before Berkeley’s Free Speech movement confronted an entrenched, implacable adminstration. Heineman points out also that Kent State held the first Vietnam war symposium (teach-in) in 1964, again a year before one was held in Berkeley.
Heineman notes efforts of the FBI to get a handle on the anti-war, draft resisting protests. There was no informer, no grand conspirator and no agent provocateur leading students at the Universities onto violent paths. Instead, law enforcement would supply drugs and next arrest the possessor with drug possession. Law enforcement would interfere with banking and would make sure telephone bills were paid on time: Late: no telephone service. Late in the Sixties and early Seventies, the FBI purportedly put agents in the field posing as students. And who knew: Bill Ayers was treated carefully because his family was very wealthy.