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Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, Part 1

Ken Wachsberger

Publication Year: 2011

This enlightening book offers a collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam Era as written and told by key staff members of the time. Their stories (as well as those to be included in Part 2, forthcoming) represent a wide range of publications: counterculture, gay, lesbian, feminist, Puerto Rican, Native American, Black, socialist, Southern consciousness, prisoner's rights, New Age, rank-and-file, military, and more. The edition includes forewords by former Chicago Seed editor Abe Peck, radical attorney William M. Kunstler, and Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, along with an introductory essay by Ken Wachsberger.
     Wachsberger notes that the underground press not only produce a few well-known papers but also was truly national and diverse in scope. His goal is to capture the essence of "the countercultural community."
     A fundamental resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of a dramatic era in U.S. history.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. vii-xii

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Foreword to the Voices from the Underground Series

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pp. xiii-xvi

The media is in a period of dramatic change, with new technologies dramatically changing how people communicate, consume information, and connect with each other. But some things don’t change—today, as in the 1960s, a collection of Big Media entities seek to dominate the media landscape, acting as gatekeepers and deciding in newsrooms and offices around the country what the masses should and should not watch, We don’t have to go far...

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Foreword to the original publication of Voices from the Underground

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pp. xvii-xviii

It is a privilege to be asked to write a foreword to Voices from the Underground, a collection of alternative journalistic pieces of that portion of the 1960s and 1970s loosely referred to as the Vietnam era. This work could not have come at a more opportune time when, as starkly illustrated by the reportage of the Gulf War, the establishment media have supinely surrendered their appropriate functions in favor of accepting official briefings and ...

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Foreword to the original publication of Voices from the Underground

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pp. xix-xxiv

Another decade, another war. And another round of media coverage, warts and all. As I write in early February 1991, reporting on the Persian Gulf war has been as whiz-bang as the technology waging it. Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy about the global village has been validated in CNN real time. Hundreds of reporters have done their best to get the story, despite varying degrees of censorship invoked by every ...

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Preface to the Voices from the Underground Series

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pp. xxv-xxxii

This book and the other books that make up the Voices from the Underground Series are about the underground press of the Vietnam era. An earlier publication containing some of this material and called Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press was published in 1993. Not long after it came out, I spoke at a conference in Chicago called the Underground Press Conference. The writers and ...

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Preface to the original publication of Voices from the Underground

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pp. xxxiii-xxxvi

Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press is about the alternative newspapers of the Vietnam era—what we romantically called the underground press—and about its veterans, the individuals who chronicled the events and ideas and at times led the uprising in this country that toppled two presidents, ended an imperialist war, and ...

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Messaging the Blackman

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pp. 1-34

H. Rap Brown was in jail in Louisiana on trumped-up charges. The Black Panther Party was striding around northern California declaring it the right and duty of our ethnic group—the African American people—to defend itself with arms against brutal police. And there sat I, in what I thought would be a good position to cover the freedom movement, as an editor/writer for Ebony magazine in Chicago. The problem was, in 1968 both Rap Brown and the Panthers were strictly verboten ...

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The San Francisco Oracle: A Brief History

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pp. 35-90

It began as a dream and ended as a legend. One morning in the late spring of 1966 I dreamed that I was flying around the world. When I looked down, I saw people reading a newspaper with rainbows printed on it—in Paris at the Eiffel Tower, in Moscow at Red Square, on Broadway in New York, at the Great Wall of China, everywhere—a rainbow newspaper. I told my friend and lover, Laurie, about the dream, and she ...

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A Fowl in the Vortices of Consciousness: The Birth of the Great Speckled Bird

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pp. 91-108

I took a trip to Connecticut one summer day in 1989 and read dog-eared issues of my old friend, that notorious radical rag from Atlanta, Georgia, the Great Speckled Bird, issues dated from 1969 to 1971. I sat in the special collections room of the giant library at University of Connecticut (UConn), lost in memories of my years working with the Bird. The young woman librarian with a shirt that said “Contra, no!” glared at me when I laughed out loud. She looked away when I cried. During that ...

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Akwesasne Notes: How the Mohawk Nation Created a Newspaper and Shaped Contemporary Native America

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pp. 109-138

To understand how Akwesasne Notes, the most influential aboriginal newspaper of the twentieth century, came to be, one must understand the history of the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, where it was born in 1968. History among the Mohawks is a highly personal matter since it involves the life stories of a people with, like all Native peoples, a deep spiritual connection with the land in which the story...

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The Joy of Liberation News Service

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pp. 139-157

Liberation News Service! Founded in youthful genius, LNS moved this country as few other rag-tag operations ever did. It was the AP and UPI of the madcap underground, supplying the counterculture with a wide variety of articles and essays, proofs and spoofs that were read and loved by emerging millions. When it fissioned, after less than a year of pure, blinding light, its fallout comprised yet another news service (that lasted another decade) and ...

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off our backs: The First Four Decades

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pp. 157-184

Off our backs was founded in late 1969 with $400 that had been collected to start an antiwar coffeehouse for GIs. The women who started it felt that, since the Left press was not covering the new women’s liberation movement adequately, a women’s newspaper was essential. Marlene Wicks was one of the co-founders.Ten years later, in an interview that appeared in oob’s tenth anniversary issue, she remembered the circumstances surrounding that decision The paper really started because ...

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oob and the Feminist Dream

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pp. 185-194

Off our backs (oob), the first national feminist newspaper to emerge on the east coast during the Vietnam War era, is a quintessential child of the sixties—born of enthusiasm, a pinch of planning, and a lot of idealistic vision. And now, forty years forty years after it began, it is still being published. Although no one recognized it at the time, the paper’s beginnings can be traced to the summer of 1968. Elsewhere, hippies were giving up the ...

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A Tradition Continues: The Lansing Area’s Progressive Press, 1965–Present

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pp. 195-238

This article is dedicated to my hometown of Lansing, Michigan. I was born in Detroit and I was raised in Cleveland. At present, I live in Ann Arbor. But when I visit Lansing, I still feel at home because I became politically and philosophically aware there in 1970 after the murders at Kent State and Jackson State, the student strikes that followed, and my first political arrest. I thank ...

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Freedom of the Press — Or Subversion and Sabotage?

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pp. 239-252

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, young Americans, disproportionately poor and of color, were shipped off to Southeast Asia—ostensibly to fight for freedom for the Vietnamese people. They soon learned that there was precious little respect for their own freedom inside the U.S. military. Enlisted people were angry about racism, brutal conditions, lack of freedom, and the insane policies they were supposed to defend with their lives. They began to oppose ...

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The Guardian Goes to War

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pp. 253-266

There are certain similarities between America’s unjust wars in Vietnam and in Iraq, and in the antiwar movements that have arisen in each era to oppose Washington’s imperial propensities, but the political differences between the United States today and the leftist current that swept the country in the 1960s to mid-1970s are profound.At this writing in April 2008, the United States is in the clutches of conservatism. The Democratic ...

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Muckraking Gadflies Buzz Reality

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pp. 267-298

How does an Eagle Scout and church youth-group leader end up hawking underground newspapers with nudes and natural food recipes? In the 1960s the transition seemed, well, organic. In the fall of 1967, I was a senior in high school. I still clearly recall the night I decided that the underground press was the most exciting occupation in the world—and for many of us back then, it really was. There was an exhilarating sense ...

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Space City!: From Opposition to Organizational Collapse

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pp. 299-324

Space City!, one of several hundred counterculture newspapers spawned by the New Left during the late 1960s, was conceived in Nirvana—the Nirvana coffeehouse in midtown Manhattan, that is—located in the basement area of an apartment building in the West Seventies just off Broadway. A holdover from the Beat era, the Nirvana served espresso, cappuccino, and other exotic coffees. For some reason, Thorne Dreyer, a Texas ...

A Select Annotated Bibliography of Sources on the Underground Press

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pp. 325-342

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About the Authors

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pp. 343-346

CHIP BERLET is senior analyst for Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts, devoted to supporting movements that are building a more just and inclusive democratic society. He freelances articles for a wide range of publications, from mainstream dailies to alternative magazines to scholarly journals. ALLEN COHEN is the author of Childbirth Is Ecstasy, the first of the new wave of books on natural ...


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pp. 347-361

E-ISBN-13: 9781609172206
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870139833

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Human rights -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- United States.
  • Underground press publications -- United States.
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