Book Review by Bob Edmonds published on February 13, 2014 in the McCormick Messenger. Mr. Edmonds has long written weekly book reviews for this newspaper, and is noted as both an author and historian. To date he has published fifteen books. He is a past president of the South Carolina Historical Society and a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award.
“The Blanket Hill Insurgency, a novel by Terry L. Wilson, 357 pages.
Terry L. Wilson writes in his novel, The Blanket Hill Insurgency, “On the tranquil campus of Kent State University students engage in the rigors of college life. Balancing studies, personal relationships and campus traditions, they fall in love, suffer breakups and cope with antagonists. Chaos breeds, fostered by escalation in Vietnam and the military draft. Turbulence attacks and lives are affected. Some struggle to maintain the status quo. Some protest and radicalize as others are inducted into the military. Tragedy shocks all when four die from National Guardsmen bullets, but the bigger story is transformation of a generation. It is changing values, conflict with authority and actions altering America’s culture.”
Discharged from the Army, author Terry L. Wilson returned to Kent State as a student. He witnessed the tragedy on Blanket Hill. He tried to make sense of the chaotic changes that evolved on a serene campus. With a completed manuscript written while in the Army, now upon retirement from the practice of architecture, drawing on personal experience and years of research, he has completed his novel, The Blanket Hill Insurgency.
The events which occurred at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970 have been listed as one of the catalysts that helped turn U.S. public opinion against the Vietnam War. What started as a peaceful protest culminated into four days of unrest that ended in tragedy. During Kent State shootings, four college students were killed and nine others wounded when the Ohio National Guard fired shots into a crowd during an anti-war protest on campus grounds.
President Nixon’s announcement on April 30, 1970, that American troops had invaded Cambodia as a means to attack the Viet Cong headquarters spurred dissent among anti-war demonstrators. Many Americans saw this invasion as a renege on promises made by President Nixon to end the Vietnam War. On May 1st, anti-war protests were held on college campuses across the country, and Kent State was no exception.
Sometime during that evening, a conflict at the local bars between police and protesters occurred with the result of protestors vandalizing local stores, banks, police cars, as well as starting bonfires in the streets of town. When Kent’s Mayor Satrom declared a state of emergency and ordered all bars closed and requested the assistance of the Ohio National Guard, the unrest grew. The trouble continued into the weekend as over one thousand protesters surrounded the ROTC building at Kent State University and someone set fire to the building. When protesters interfered with the ability of the firemen to fight the fire, the National Guard used tear gas and arrested protesters.
The turbulence peaked on May 4, when 3000 people (approximately 1,500 demonstrators and 1,500 bystanders) gathered at the University Commons to object to the National Guard presence on campus as well as to the Vietnam War.
The Blanket Hill Insurgency is a reading experience that readers will long remember.”