Disturbing the War: The Inside Story of the Movement to Get Stanford out of Southeast Asia - 1965-1975 (Paperback)
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DISTURBING THE WAR: The Inside Story of the Movement to Get Stanford University out of Southeast Asia-1965-1975
In the 1960s, Stanford University was already known as one of America's "great research universities." Less known to outsiders, it was an essential cog in the U.S. war machine during the Vietnam War. From the mid-1960s through the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, a dedicated, evolving group of students and other members of the Stanford community challenged that role and the leadership of the university itself.
Lenny Siegel tells the inside story of the Stanford radical, anti-war student Movement, how activists used research, education, political activity, and direct action to win over their campus cohort, alter Stanford's direction in the world, and lay the foundation for what became known as Silicon Valley.
As the U.S. appears to be embarking upon a new era of progressive militancy, the Stanford Movement's experiences provide important lessons for new generations of activists. Though organizers today have at their thumb-tips communications tools that sixties activists never dreamed of, the fundamental principles of student and community organizing have not changed.
At times, Siegel and his fellow protesters broke rules, laws, and even windows. But they believed and continue to insist that what they did was justified by the imperative of halting the extreme violence and gross violations of international law visited upon Southeast Asia in their names.
About the Author
Lenny Siegel grew up in southern California, organizing fellow high school students to work for peace and civil rights. He entered Stanford University in the fall of 1966, majoring in physics and hoping to eventually get a job in the area’s growing computer and electronics industry. He soon discovered that Stanford’s pioneering “Community of Technical Scholars” had a powerful, seldom mentioned partner, the U.S. military. Along with other students, he spent much of his time at Stanford documenting the university’s participation in the Vietnam War and organizing other members of the Stanford community to “halt all military and economic projects concerned with Southeast Asia.” Siegel’s participation in that Movement ended his academic career, sent him to jail for a dozen days, and ironically, kept him out of the military draft. Siegel became head of the Movement-inspired Pacific Studies Center in 1970, researching and writing about Southeast Asia and the emergence of Silicon Valley as the planet’s preeminent center of high technology. In 1985 he co-authored The High Cost of High Tech: The Dark Side of the Chip. He moved to nearby Mountain View in 1972, buying a home in 1979. In the 1980s he and his wife, Jan Rivers, had two children, and he moonlighted as a contract technical writer at Apple Computer. In the 1990s he became one of the environmental movement’s leading experts on toxic cleanup, military environmental issues, and public engagement. 1994 he was hired as Executive Director of what became known as the Center for Public Environmental Oversight at San Francisco State University. CPEO affiliated with the Pacific Studies Center in 2006. In 2014, Siegel formed the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, to address the jobs-housing imbalance that Siegel challenged during his days at Stanford. That led to his election to the Mountain View City Council, on which he served from 2015 to early 2019. He served as mayor in 2018, becoming one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s leading advocates of new housing development.
Lenny Siegel has written a moving account of his decade-long struggle to stop America’s terrible war in Indochina. Disturbing the War is an on-the ground account written by someone who has put his career and life on the line for a cause and a set of ideals that in many ways still echo in the political and cultural wars that divide America today. Indeed, the Stanford antiwar movement was at the epicenter of ten chaotic years before Silicon Valley that reframed the way technology was viewed and help form a hobbyist culture that led to personal computing.— John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry; Former technology reporter, New York Times
Lenny Siegel traces the development of the April Third Movement and the nine-day student takeover of the Applied Electronics Lab that forced Stanford to halt classified research on electronic warfare against the Vietnamese people. From the day Siegel signed me up for SDS in 1967, my life has never been the same. The Stanford antiwar movement provided the context for my social activism and that of so many others. This well-researched and engagingly written book is a must-read for all who seek to understand how the organized opposition to the Vietnam War helped inform the anti-imperialist and social justice movements that followed.—Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emerita, Thomas Jefferson School of Law; Former President, National Lawyers Guild
Lenny Siegel, a thoughtful observer as well as a skillful organizer, draws timeless truths from the anti-war insurrections at Stanford in the '60s and ‘70s. Young people who are demonstrating today on race and climate could learn much from Siegel’s history of Stanford’s most turbulent decade.—Former Stanford student body president and Principal Earth Day organizer