NORTH TO CANADA by James Dickerson


Men and Women Against the Vietnam War
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An unremarkable glimpse into the remarkable lives of several Vietnam-era draft resisters who fled north. Freelance journalist Dickerson opens his book by protesting a little too loudly that the young people of today, who have no direct memory of the Vietnam years, don’t properly appreciate “one of the most traumatic periods in American history. Those who do have clear memories are now in their late 40s and 50s, a sizable segment of the population, but hardly one that fits the sell, sell, sell demographics of today’s youth-oriented news and entertainment media.” Those youngsters may in fact have a hard time seeing in Dickerson’s half-dozen chief profile subjects the fiery radicals of yesteryear, now resident in Canada for a quarter of a century and long comfortably settled into grownup careers: one is a policy analyst for the Asian Development Bank, another the director general of the Institutions and Social Statistics Branch of the Canadian government, still another is an economic researcher employed by the public sector. Dickerson is good at placing the resisters and the Canadian government’s attitude toward them in historical context: half a million Americans, he writes, moved to Canada legally and illegally as a result of the Vietnam-era draft, “one the largest mass exoduses in history of Americans emigrating from their homeland.” For all that, his book relies on narratives that are not especially revealing; his subjects, to all appearances, simply decided the war was wrong, picked up and moved north, and got on with their lives without, it would appear, much personal sacrifice. It would have been better had Dickerson sought out more thoughtful and politically engaged critics of American policy in Vietnam, and had he cast a wider net to find a more representative range of subjects.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1999
ISBN: 0-275-96211-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Praeger
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999


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