BLOOD ON THE TRACKS THE LIFE AND TIMES OF S. BRIAN WILLSON
by S. Brian Willson
introduction by Daniel Ellsberg
“Brian Willson’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.”- Kris Kristoffererson, actor and songwriter
“Brian Willson’s memoir should be read and pondered, and its lessons should be taken to heart by those who hope to create a more decent world.”- Noam Chomsky
“I was busted with Brian, 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.”- Ed Asner, actor
“We are not worth more, they are not worth less.” This is the mantra of S. Brian Willson and the theme that runs throughout his compelling psychohistorical memoir. Willson’s story begins in small-town, rural America, where he grew up as a “Commie-hating, baseball-loving Baptists,” moves through life-changing experiences in Viet Nam, Nicaragua, and elsewhere, and culminates with his commitment to a localized sustainable lifestyle. In telling his story, Willson provides numerous examples of types of personal, risk taking, nonviolent actions he and others have taken in attempts to educate and effect political change; tax refusal … which requires simplification of one’s lifestyle; fasting … done publically in strategic political or therapeutic spiritual contexts; and obstruction tactics … strategically placing one’s body in the way of “business as usual.” It was such actions that thrust Brian Willson into the public eye in the mid-’80, first as a participant in a high-profile, water-only “Veterans Fast for Life” against the Contra war being waged by his government in Nicaragua. Then, on a fateful day in September 1987, the world watched in horror as Willson was run over by a U.S. government munitions train during a nonviolent blocking action in which he expected to be removed from the tracks and arrested.
Losing his leg only strengthened Willson’s identity with millions of unnamed victims of U.S. policy around the world. He provides details of his travels to countries in Latin America and the Middle East and bears witness to the harm done to poor people as well as to the environment by the steamroller of U.S. imperialism. These heart-rending accounts are offered side by side with inspirational stories of nonviolent struggle and the survival of resilient communities.
Throughout his personal journey Willson struggles with the question, “Why was it so easy for me, a ‘good’ man, to follow orders to travel 9,000 miles from home to participate in killing people who clearly were not a treat to me or any of my fellow citizens?” He eventually comes to the realization that the “American Way of Life” is AWOL from humanity, and that the only way to recover our humanity is by changing our consciousness, one individual at a time, while striving for collective cultural changes toward “less and local.” Thus, Willson offers up his person story as a metaphorical map for anyone who feels the need to be liberated from the American Way of Life … a guidebook for anyone called by conscience to question continued obedience to vertical power structures while longing to reconnect with the human archetypes of cooperation, equity, mutual respect, and empathy.
May 2011 978-1-60486-421-2 $20.00 6×9 Paperback 500 Pages Memior/Politcs
PM Press PO Box 23912 Oakland, CA 94625 http://www.pmpress.org