Burgan, Michael. Death At Kent State: How a Photograph Brought the Vietnam War Home To America. Capstone Publishers 2017 64p $25.99 ISBN 978-0-7565-5424-8 ms/hs Series: Captured History Nonfiction VG-BNS
This book about the Kent State shootings during the Vietnam War demonstrates the impact a single news photograph was able to have on public opinion regarding the war, the antiwar movement, and the government’s actions at the time. Although this book discusses a very tragic and important event in recent American history, it includes an incorrect and misleading statement about the US intervention in Vietnam. This statement on page 4 is incorrect: “Since the end of World War II, the Soviet Union had tried to spread its influence and communist system of government around the world. The United States resisted those efforts while supporting democratic governments and trying to build a worldwide capitalist economic system.” The actual truth is that Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Vietnamese fight for liberation from French domination, approached the US for help, and when the US refused him, he turned to the Communist world for support for his struggle. This fact is never stated in the book, and the implication is that the Soviets started the war in Vietnam, which is utterly incorrect.
Despite this biased and incorrect statement, this reviewer is giving the book a BONs rating because it does demonstrate the power of a photograph to change history. The John Filo photograph from Kent State had a profound impact on history and on the legal case that ensued from the event. This is clearly demonstrated in the book, with text, a pictorial timeline, a glossary, a list of additional resources, prompts for critical thinking, source notes, a select bibliography, and an index.
The series Captured History showcases various historical events in American history to demonstrate the power of a photograph to change the course of public opinion and policy. Others in the series cover the JFK assassination, the Birmingham march of 1963, the Civil War, and Ruby Bridges’ historic walk to school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Recommended for middle- and high-school collections and history classes.
Summary: This book about the Kent State shootings during the Vietnam War demonstrates the impact a single news photograph was able to have on public opinion regarding the war, the antiwar movement, and the government’s actions at the time.
Kent State Shootings --Carol Kennedy