Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson
Book Review by Gar Smith
It’s a good sign when the testimonials on the back of a 440-page autobiography include the likes of Noam Chomsky, Ed Asner and Martin Sheen. But that only hints at the praise directed at S. Brian Willson’s long-awaited memoir. The testimonials continue on the inside — for another seven pages — and include plaudits from Cindy Sheehan, William Blum, Kris Kristofferson, Norman Solomon, Peter Dale Scott, Cynthia McKinney and Country Joe McDonald.
This whopping epic (published by Oakland’s feisty PM Press) tells the story of a Vietnam-era soldier who entered the war as a red-blooded small-town recruit and emerged as a die-hard dissident, driven to expose and oppose not only warfare in general but also the US’ unique role in spreading military terror around the world.
Willson returned home to become a leading war resister — a man whose dogged determination to confront the war machine lead him to fast on the steps of the US capital and eventually cost him both legs — severed on September 1, 1987, when he was run over by an ammunitions-filled locomotive on the first day of a nonviolent protest on the railroad tracks leading to the Concord Weapons Station.