|LOVE and WAR at KENT STATE
"On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired into
a crowd of Kent State University students killing four and
wounding nine. This action contributed to the first nationwide
student strike in higher education in the United States.
Love and War at Kent State by Jon Michael Miller relives the two
and one-half year period from the Fall of 1967 to mid-May of 1970.
Miller tells the story of protest as well as the shootings through
the experiences of a passionate love story of Jake Ernst, a
graduate student in English at Kent, and Tasha Van Sollis, a
French teacher at the local high school.
As he struggles with personal relationships, Jake becomes
involved in student protest against the Vietnam War. As a
teaching assistant he becomes a faculty marshal at various
protests. He encounters the May 4 shootings in that role.
Miller has told a creative and important story of the protest
culture at Kent State. Readers of this novel will imagine
themselves walking on the Commons area thinking about
protest and the Vietnam War and what these profound events
have meant to the United States."
Jerry M. Lewis
Emeritus Professor of Sociology
Kent State University
If you love history and
If the whole scope of the anti-War-in-Vietnam era were to be written as a Shakespearean tragedy, the
climax late in the third act would have to be May, 4, 1970, at Kent State University. That day could be
seen as the pivotal point after which everything else became inevitable. Members of the Ohio National
Guard shot four students to death that warm spring afternoon, paralyzed another for life, and wounded
Jon Michael Miller’s novel is the first to trace the almost daily roots of the tragedy not from hindsight
but from a contemporaneous viewpoint. We see the relentless buildup of contending campus forces
from the consciousness of Jake Ernst, a young teaching assistant in the English Department, who came
to Kent, of all things, seeking refuge from his troubled past.
Follow his search for love, for career, and for the meaning of his life as events unfold toward the
fateful day after which America could no longer deny the horrendous homeland effects of a misguided
military conflict taking place on the other side of the world. Publisher's Comment
As an adolescent, Jake Ernst received two
bits of advice from his mom: first, there are
good girls and bad ones—stay away from the
bad ones; and, second, sex without love is a
sin. In those days, the late 50’s, an
adolescent boy lucked out getting any
guidelines from his parents at all. But as he
came of age, Jake found his mother’s words
more complicated than they first seemed.
A country boy in Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania, Jake grows up in an age of
innocence compared to present times of hard
drives, cell phones and omnipresent porn.
He had to learn on his own as he faced
baffling trials. With academic aspirations, he
was constantly challenged—socially,
intellectually, sexually—as he
metamorphosed into his adult life.
In Jon Michael Miller’s finely crafted novel,
which captures those times with splendid
empathy, we grow with Jake in his
exasperating, comic and poignant journey
from so-called happy days to the brink of
some of the most turbulent years in our
Jake’s voyage is a joy to dwell in, as we
puzzle with him about which of his girls are
good ones and which are bad. Or are his
mother’s words a bit too simple? Whether
they are or not, a magnificent ride awaits the
|From the Author:
I began my Kent State pilgrimage - for that's what it
became - on a note of whimsy as I finished up the
coming of age novel "Good Girls, Bad Girls." At the
end of that book, Jake Ernst, in an attempt to find a
place to begin a new life free of former troubles, and
having received a teaching assistantship at Kent State,
heads for Ohio, seeking refuge. As a writer, I was
tickled by the irony.
But shortly into my research, I realized I was
treading on hallowed ground. I found I'd sunk into a
morass of questions, and my journey became not only
one of ironic romantic comedy, but a search for what
really led up to that explosion of violence at Kent State
that spring day of May 4, 1970.
Of course, I'd heard of the shootings - I was in grad
school at Ohio State at the time, which had its own
protest troubles. But in Kent, lives were lost, innocent
ones. Two of the victims were merely walking to
class. How did it all happen? Why?
I read books, looked at photos, talked to people,
traveled to Kent. The search for facts changed me,
sobered me, made me realize that this was not a
subject for mere whimsy. I wanted to add to the
understanding of what took place at Kent State that
dreadful day in May.
I hope I have.
KENT STATE PHOTOS
The Pagoda - Guardsmen fired here.
by the author, October, 2014
The Victory Bell
The Commons, Blanket Hill, Taylor Hall
Students fell in the parking lot.
One of the famed black squirrels
Remains of the Water Street Strip.
Commons, Victory Bell, Blanket Hill
The old library, now a museum.
To buy print version, click this link:
Robin Hood Inn
Cuyahoga River - Center of Town
May 4, 1970 Memorial
Taylor Hall: setting of shootings
Memorial in copse
Memorial: Taylor Hall walkway
Pagoda from Blanket Hill
As eBook on Amazon--search the title.