Blood on the Tracks

The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson

Non-Fiction - Memoir
537 Pages
Reviewed on 03/12/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Robert Kirkconnell for Readers' Favorite

Growing up in Upstate New York, S. Brian Willson was everything his community expected of him. He was tall, athletic, patriotic, and a good student who would stand up for what was right. Blood on the Tracks is the poignant story of what happened when his “right” became far different from that of society. Viet Nam was his awakening to the harsh reality that war was not a process of freeing people, but a demonic system of mass murder. His extraordinary efforts to preserve the lives and dignity of Vietnamese civilians resulted in a recommendation for his court martial. Brian returned to civilian life to find a society he was also at odds with. This dilemma put him in front of a munitions train and forced the U.S. Government to openly demonstrate what it valued more – the growth of a just society or war and destruction?

Blood on the Tracks is a fascinating study of character. Using the backdrop of “wars of liberation,” S. Brian Willson brilliantly exposes the dark side of what U.S. objectives really are. He also exposes the stark reality that “friend and foe,” virtually all of humanity, are expendable to a brutal 400-year-old system that kills indigenous peoples and takes their resources. His first-hand experiences in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Columbia, El Salvador, and more paint a heartbreaking picture of how brutal this process is. This is contrasted with the incredible courage people demonstrate when they stand up to seemingly insurmountable power. The words spoken by one Nicaraguan mother in the face of disaster sum up the message of this groundbreaking work: “Dignity is everything, longevity is nothing.” A must-read for anyone questioning the direction of the U.S. today!