Volume 3 of landmark Vietnam antiwar opus out in time to oppose Iran War

At long last, volume 3 of my Voices from the Underground Press Series is out. The timing couldn’t be better as the drums beat louder for war in Iran.

The Voices from the Underground Series is a four-volume collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam era as told by key people on each of the papers, all of them just regular folks from varied backgrounds who answered the patriotic call to resist war and now share their heroic adventures. The underground press was the independent, antiwar press of the Vietnam era that told the true story, which the corporate papers suppressed, of what our government was doing behind our backs to the Vietnamese people in our name and with our tax dollars.

Stories in the series represent the gay, lesbian, feminist, Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, military, prisoners’ rights, socialist, new age, rank-and-file, Southern consciousness, psychedelic, and other independent antiwar voices of the era as never before told. The foreword in volume 3 is by feminist pioneer Susan Brownmiller.

If you experienced the Vietnam era but for some reason are now hazy on the details, or if you could never describe the intensity of the politics when your kids (and now grandkids) asked what life was like then, or if you succumbed to the fear that followed our country’s dramatic post-war shift to the right and covered up your experiences, as too many of our generation did, this book is for you.

If you are a progressive blogger, this book, and the entire series, is about the folks who did what you’re doing now by using what was then the new technology of offset printing. Marcos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, one of the most important progressive blog sites today, connected the two generations in his foreword that appeared in volume 1.

And, especially, if you are of military age—this book is dedicated to you, our intergenerational peers, who have been called upon already to defend two sham causes in Iraq and Afghanistan and soon will be called upon—unless we start mobilizing now—to shed your lives in Iran. In this amazing book you will see how others who were your age but from a different era created a new society while finding the courage to refuse to fight even when those who would profit from war called them cowards and traitors for not submitting quietly.

Begin with Harry Haines’ story of the widespread GI antiwar movement, now largely hidden from the public debate, and in particular Aboveground, an antiwar paper directed at soldiers stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. Two appendices, by Haines and James Lewes, without a doubt the world expert on the military underground press, identify nearly 500 underground newspapers produced by or aimed at members of the U.S. armed forces, all branches, during the Vietnam War.

When those who want endless war cry “Support the troops,” remember that there is only one way to support the troops and that is to bring them home, away from foreign entanglements where they don’t belong; or not ship them there in the first place.

Does anyone really think the age of racism is over just because we have a black president? For background, read stories of the Black Panther newspaper by JoNina Abron, the paper’s last editor; and Palante, the newspaper of the Puerto Rican liberation group Young Lords Organization, by Pablo “Yorúba” Guzmán.

As anyone who breathes air knows, the Republicans’ war on women and the GLBT community is accelerating. Read stories of

  • It Aint Me Babe, the first national newspaper of the emerging women’s liberation movement, by members of the collective;
  • The Furies, published by twelve self-proclaimed revolutionary lesbian feminists from Washington, D.C., by Ginny Berson; and
  • Fag Rag, one of the most important Gay Liberation Front newspapers to arise after the Stonewall Rebellion, by Charley Shively.

Reflect on the war against union workers being fought in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, and everywhere else where Republicans have seized control of government. Then remember why labor unions are essential for a strong middle class as you read Paul Krehbiel’s story of New Age, an antiwar paper published by rank-and-file union workers in upstate New York.

These wars that are being fought now were all fought during the Vietnam era. Too many of us thought we had won. Could it be we relaxed? The lesson, and I’m not the first to declare it, is that freedom has to be won in every generation. It helps to know how allies from an earlier period did it.

Other stories in volume 3 of the 4-volume Voices from the Underground Series:

  • Bob Hippler recalls fast times in the Motor City with his history of the first ten years of Detroit’s Fifth Estate, the longest-running underground paper to emerge from the sixties.
  • Peter Jensen takes us to the end of the Oregon Trail where an alien force had taken over our country; it talked peace and made vicious war; it owned both political parties; its media reported inflated, daily body counts for generals in Saigon and Washington; and the Eugene AUGUR was all that was left of the opposition.
  • David Doggett tackles the question of how a bunch of Mississippi white kids, descended from rednecks, slave owners, and Bible-thumpers, published for four years in the state’s capital The Kudzu, a running diatribe of social, economic, and political revolution, a proclamation of sexual liberation, illegal drugs, and heretical mysticism.
  • Tim Wong reflects on his own eight and a half years of alternative journalism in Madison, Wisconsin, the Midwest city most closely associated with the antiwar movement and counterculture of the Vietnam era, and how it chronicled the transition from the sixties to the eighties.
  • and more.

I’m the editor of the series, as well as a contributor. My story on the East Lansing-Lansing, Michigan, underground press, which was my base during the early seventies, appeared in volume 1 and I wrote editor prefaces to all four volumes.

To learn more about the Voices from the Underground Series, read more testimonials, view the entire four-volume table of contents, watch a few cool videos, read some funny stories, and order your copy of volume 3— as well as volumes 1 and 2 if you don’t yet have them, visit www.voicesfromtheunderground.com.

While you’re at it, order a set for your local school library. Besides helping them stretch their shrinking budget, you’ll get a tax write-off for supporting your favorite educational institution. (Don’t trust me. Ask your favorite tax preparer for specifics.)

Volume 4 is due out in August with a foreword by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Reserve your copy now.

4 Responses

  1. (Please forgive the long-rambling here)
    Just finished reading Nick Bromell’s “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which filters the history of the 1960s counterculture movement through the lens of music and psychedelics. One passage, in particular, gives me pause for thought. Towards the end of the book, Bromell ponders “Will the wind ever remember, the names it has blown in the past? The question Hendrix asks-as McCartney does in “When I’m Sixty-Four”- is whether his audience will join him there on the other side of the death that would also be the “end” of the ‘60s, the end of youth. He is singing, in other words, about memory and history.”

    Having been born in 1970, that passage really caused me to stop and think about “memory” and “history.” Most of the people, after all, who wrote for the Vietnam Era underground newspapers (McCartney’s or Hendrix’s audience) would be nearing or past the age of sixty-four today. And the answer to the question Paul McCartney asks is “Yes!” Yes! Yes! Yes! We, of all ages, still need you! Now more than ever, we need the advice and knowledge of those activists from the Vietnam Era counterculture who sought and worked so hard to question the status quo, to stop the war in Vietnam and advocated for civil and equal rights. These were young people who spoke out against imperialism and who attempted to live more environmentally-sound, less materialistic ways. They dared stand up to corporate greed and propose a better, more peaceful, humane way of living. For many of us, these are the people who’ve now become our parents or our grandparents.

    Somewhere along the way, unfortunately, the eighties (groan) happened. The voices of the counterculture were silenced. But in the words Bromell used to end his historical account of the sixties “…tomorrow never knows. It remembers.” As the Occupy Wall Street Movement looks to move forward, it would be wise to “remember” the voices of those who so bravely and wisely fought for better alternatives to the status quo during the Vietnam Era. These voices have been quieted by the decades which followed but their rumblings are starting to be heard again and they deserve, finally, be given the serious historical consideration they sorely deserve. With the global, economic, and environmental crises of our times, “Heck yea! We still need you…you sixty-four year old vanguards of the Vietnam Era underground press!” We need to hear your stories, learn from them, and pass them on. For these reasons, I’m thoroughly enjoying the “Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press” series which are chock full of amazing tales of protest. I can’t think of a series of books more timely, inspiring, and relevant to what is happening in our Country today. Thank you!

  2. Laurie, I’m really touched by your comments. I hope you continue to enjoy the series and find lots of writing material in it. You’re doing important work now. Any help and inspiration I can provide would be my honor. Most important in your comments, I’m glad you mentioned the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The young people who are blossoming as movement activists are the folks I hope most to reach through the stories in Voices. One day they’ll be writing their stories but right now they’re leading the way in creating them. What wonderful, heroic stories are unfolding.

  3. It’s amazing to follow what is happening right now with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I hope the May Day activities help provide some momentum to the movement. These issues are so connected to what was being questioned, protested, and spoken out against by the underground press of the Vietnam Era. There were so many warnings by the writers of the underground press about the consequences of environmental destruction, foreign occupation, and corporate greed.

    Those warnings should have been heeded but were, perhaps, dismissed as “radical” hippie rants by the status quo. In fact, those warnings were voices of reason. Today, a movement of all ages and backgrounds are trying to sound out the warnings again and put a stop to all this corruption and madness, especially regarding military occupation. How long are we going to repeat these mistakes?

  4. If it was a battle of reason only, we would have won long ago. Unfortunately, financial corruption and media control are powerful opponents of reason. Fortunately, alternative media and grassroots organization are powerful allies. Meanwhile, we always have to study our own history, not the history that the power structure thrusts upon us. This is why I would like to see Voices used in classrooms.

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