I am pleased today to introduce the Voices from the Underground website. The multi-page site is a celebration and a unique study of the underground press from the Vietnam era.
The underground press was the voice of the antiwar movement that led the long struggle to halt our own government’s crimes against the people of Vietnam. While the corporate press was largely parroting the government line about lights at the end of the tunnel and Vietnamization and enemy body counts that surpassed the total population of Vietnam, the patriots of the underground press exposed our true history of aggression, joined in solidarity with the people of Vietnam, and became the voice of peace that forced our government to withdraw our troops.
The task they faced was the task that today’s bloggers face in our efforts to get our government out of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Underground papers were a phenomenon made possible by what was then the new technology of offset printing. Suddenly, owning your own paper was not a possibility reserved for the rich and powerful. Left-wing, radical, liberal, progressive communities all over the country started their own papers to oppose the war but also to strengthen their emerging communities and liberation movements. Through networks like Underground Press Syndicate, Liberation News Service, and others, they joined together as a network, sharing resources and knowledge and strength. All underground papers were united in solid opposition to the war. They were a powerful force, locally and nationally. They were everywhere.
And yet today they are little known. In fact, the entire antiwar movement is little known, and for good reason. No corporate government wants its citizens to know that if they unite and speak up they can overcome their government’s imperial tendencies. So, today the Vietnam War is barely discussed in high school, or it is discussed at a superficial level that glosses over the antiwar movement. College journalism classes don’t touch the underground press, even though it was arguably a highpoint in our young country’s celebration of journalism and the First Amendment, America’s greatest gift to the world.
Today’s progressive bloggers are heirs to the underground press tradition, and yet most don’t know what the underground press was.
The four-volume Voices from the Underground Series changes that. It addresses the underground press like no other book before it, by giving voice to insiders who were key people on their own papers. Although all underground papers were united against the war, individual papers spoke to different audiences. Papers represented the gay, lesbian, feminist, Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, prisoners’ rights, rank-and-file, psychedelic, Southern consciousness, new age, socialist, military, and other voices of the many liberation movements that arose during that period.
Those voices are represented in the Voices from the Underground Series.
So, if you’ve read this far, take a look at the website. I talk about the underground press and then I give you a sneak preview into all four books, which will be released one at a time over a period of two years. I share testimonials here and here from academics and activists and media reviewers. And, while you’re waiting for your books to arrive in the mail, I share a few excerpts from other books of mine: Early Wachsberger.
Volume 1 will be officially available in January 2011 but it is expected to be in the Michigan State University Press warehouse in early December and I’ll be helping to distribute them. So don’t wait until December. Order now and take advantage of my special pre-publication price. It’s easy. Just go through PayPal.
I want to thank MSU Press for their support of Voices from the Underground. What I compiled was the equivalent of four books. I couldn’t help it. The material was there, and so was the commitment from my contributors. If they had said, “Give us just enough to fill one volume,” I would have said, “Catch you later.” But they recognized, as did I, that every story was amazing in its own way so they bought into my vision of four separate volumes. In this horrible economy, they deserve credit.