Endorsements and Praise
Blood on the Tracks: The Life and
Times of S. Brian Willson
“Brian Willson is one of a few modern men for all seasons. His memoir is an introduction to a way of living that could save a planet perilously drifting toward extinction. He takes the philosophy of nonviolence or ‘Do no harm’ and applies it to the violence we are doing to the planet and one another. (Personal note: perhaps we are a species that should be extinguished. At least 99% of us.) Caution! Read at the risk of being inspired.”
(Viet Nam veteran, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, peace activist)
“This Brian Willson is no throwaway American. This was a soldier in wartime, this was a protester after war taught him its lessons and finally, this was a sacrificer in carrying protest to the nth degree. I was busted with him but I never gave the ultimate as he gave. This book is about a patriot, the kind of patriot you don’t find anymore, the kind of patriot who loves and believes in his country so much he surrendered his legs in telling his country it’s wrong. Read this book.”
(film & television actor)
“The 1960s to the 1980s…for progressive activists in the United States there perhaps was never a period quite like it—Viet Nam to Nicaragua to El Salvador, one long protest against the barbarity of American imperialism. S. Brian Willson was there, here and everywhere, devoting his life, sacrificing his legs to a munitions train. A marvelous “journey” he calls it, for the boy who was “convinced that the United States could do no wrong,” a loyal anti-communist, who served in Viet Nam, then traveled the length of Latin America to oppose US foreign policy and support the numerous victims of that policy. Sadly, that policy continues, but Willson’s memoir can well serve as a guide and inspiration to a new generation of progressive activists. We’ve learned a lot.”
(author, Killing Hope)
“S. Brian Willson is an American hero who gives me inspiration and hope. In this book, he takes us on an amazing journey through his life as an All-American young man. He was an excellent student, an all-league athlete, a Conservative Baptist, a Republican and a strong believer in the American way of life. In 1969 he had an epiphany in Viet Nam that changed his life forever. He has had many incredible experiences along the way, including being run over by a U.S. Navy train, where he lost both of his legs while protesting U.S. foreign policy in Central America. Brian now stands for peace, justice and fairness for all people of the earth. I love his mantra: ‘We are not worth more, they are not worth less.’ This book should be required reading for all high school and college students in America.”
(former US Representative from Georgia; Green Party presidential candidate)
“I write as a witness to S. Brian Willson.
It was the privilege of the Office of the Americas to be part of the Nuremberg Actions at the Concord naval Weapons Station in California. And this is the site where Brian and his fellow Veterans gathered on the tracks to stop a munitions shipment to Nicaragua. The munitions train did not stop, in fact it speeded up as it approached the protestors. It was here at Concord that Brian lost both of his legs and received a brutally fractured skull.
And after Brian’s rapid recovery, it was our privilege, during the peak of Reagan’s homicidal war on the Nicaraguan people, to travel over much of Nicaragua with this wounded hero. We flew at tree top level in a worn out helicopter to see the devastation.
Brian Willson represents millions of young women and men whose lives have been severely damaged by unnecessary, illegal and immoral imperial wars conducted by our nation. He urges us to a new way of life.
This book must be required reading for every high school and college student. Their lives depend on it.”
-Blase Bonpane, Ph.D.
(Director, Office of the Americas; author)
“Brian Willson and I went to Nicaragua in 1988 to witness the Sopoa Peace Summit between the Contras and the Sandinistas. The love and respect shown him by the people there was heart felt and heart warming (he had knelt in front of a train in the well publicized protest of the shipment of weapons to be used against the citizens of Nicaragua by the Contras, who were trained and equipped by the US, who wanted to destabilize the Sandinista Government). In hospitals full of children and farmers who had lost limbs because of land mines planted by the Contras, we was obviously and immediately one of them. He’d done it for them and they loved him for it.
Brian Wilson’s courage, compassion, and commitment to fighting for freedom, and justice, and human rights is an inspiration to the rest of us and a lesson in how to handle Adjustments in our Plans.”
“Brian Willson’s life story teaches us to ‘walk the talk,’ guided by one of the finest prophets of our time. Brian teaches us that we can’t control the U.S. government. It is every bit as reckless as the train that ran over him. Brian asks people to stop fuelling “the train.” If we can’t control our own government, can we at least stop actively helping it? For many years, he traveled all over the world to campaign against weapons and war, but his conscientious objection to voracious resource consumption spurred him to design a new life style. With impeccable logic, Brian challenges us stay closer to home so that we can avoid consuming more than our fair share of energy. By living simply and working hard for justice, he aims to attain right livelihood. By studying his writing and following his lead, we bolster our chances to build a better world.”
(nonviolent activist, Voices For Creative Nonviolence)
“Brian Willson’s courage, integrity, and dedication to peace and justice and to a sustainable society have been an inspiration to all of those who seek to change the course on which we are lurching towards destruction. His memoir should be read and pondered, and its lessons should be taken to heart by those who hope to create a more decent world.”
(linguist, historian, professor, author)
“Brian Willson’s memoir boils with alchemy that has turned pain and caring into moral insistence and political resistance. After seeing what war really does, he lives every day with the wounds of military madness and the imperatives of struggling for social sanity. This book takes us away from the false comforts of clichés and cardboard images, replacing them with a genuine account of injustice writ large and insistence on humane values. With this superb narrative of his own life, Brian Willson invites us to think more clearly and feel more deeply.”
(media critic; author, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death)
“A remarkable and exceptional book! Brian Willson is an American hero, citizen of the world, and passionate man of peace. His extraordinary life is an inspiration to us all!”
(Vietnam veteran; author, Born on the Fouth of July, anti-war activist
“In a world filled with violence, oppression, the madness of war, and the destruction of the environment, many are searching for hope—and those individuals who give us hope.
This is where Brian Willson comes in. Like many of us, he bought into the lies of war and violence. But something happened along his journey, and Viet Nam was only the beginning. He discovered the truth and he followed it, no matter the cost. I encourage you to read this book about a great peacemaker and a great lover of mother earth. You will be filled with hope.”
-Father Roy Bourgeois
(Maryknoll Catholic priest, founder SOA Watch)
“Brian Willson is a hero in our midst. Descended from early settlers, like most small town boys, he was born and bred to serve his country, to do his patriotic duty, and to not ask questions about the worthiness of his government. His military service in Viet Nam shattered all illusions about the war itself and the government he was serving. Remaining duty bound, principled, and determined, he has spent the past four decades as a non-violent activist against United States’ military interventions, and since 1988, has walked on "third world legs." We are fortunate to have this book, this testament to the transformative power of consciousness.”
(historian, activist, author)
“Brian Willson has lived one of the more interesting and inspiring lives of any peace activist in recent American history. His story deserves to be read and absorbed by people of all persuasions: militarists as well as anti-militarists.”
-Peter Dale Scott
(historian, poet and author)
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