Life After America: A memoir about the wild and crazy 1960s

Posted January 13, 2018 by Denzil in History, Memoirs, Music, Reviews / 51 Comments

Life After America by Joseph Glazner

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Life After America: A memoir about the wild and crazy 1960s by Joseph Mark Glazner
Genres: America, Peace, Personal Memoirs
Buy on Amazon US | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Buy on Amazon UK
Goodreads

 

Life After America is an excellently written, enthralling memoir of a young American war resistor in the late 1960s. On the verge of being called up to fight in Vietnam – a war which he didn’t believe his country had any right or business being in – Joseph Glazner puts his pacifism into practice. He flees to Canada before being drafted. The book relates his interesting, shocking and humorous experiences over the next two years.

Hello, Goodbye

It starts with 22-year old Glazner arriving at Montreal airport in November 1967. He is aware that his action would label him “a draft dodger, a traitor, a coward, even a fugitive from the FBI.” He is accepted into the country and granted a work permit.

Paperback writer

His desire to write comes out strongly throughout the book. He brings his unfinished novel with him to Canada, starts another, scraps it, and takes various temporary writing jobs. The funniest of these is when he works with a “trash tabloid” creating “credible fake” stories. Headlines he comes up with include “Flying saucer captures ship’s captain” and “Scientists bring 6 men back from dead after 2 weeks.”

I want to hold your hand

It may be the swinging sixties, but all Glazner wants is to settle down in a stable, long-term relationship with a beautiful woman whom he loves. Not that it stops him going through a series of short-term dalliances.

Revolution

Glazner arrives in Montreal when the linguistic divide is leading to riots, some of which turn violent. Bombings cause chaos and confusion. The Liberal and “ultracool” Pierre Trudeau arises from the flames to become Prime Minister and bring new hope to the country.

The Fool on the Hill

The author always has an eye on happenings on Capitol Hill back in America. He hears of the government’s plans to re-open its old World War Two internment camps and fill them with “every freak, peacenik, hippie and protester to the war.” He is angered by the pro-war stance of President Lyndon Johnson and then later Richard Nixon.

He recounts the momentous events that took place at this time: the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy; the news stories of Neil Armstrong, Charles Manson and Jackie Kennedy. And he keeps up to date with events in Vietnam and the ever-increasing death toll.

The Ballad of John and Yoko

Two-thirds through, just when I started to wonder how many short-term jobs and failed relationships this guy can survive before he goes under, he gets his lucky break. It’s a call from the editor of a Montreal Sunday newspaper.

“John Lennon’s just arrived in town,” he explains. “I’d like you to do a story on Lennon and his thoughts on draft dodgers and their contribution to peace.”

And so begins the wonderful and strong final third of the book, with the author getting close to Lennon and Yoko Ono during their week-long Bed-In in a Montreal hotel. It’s great stuff, involving a stream of celebrities, musicians and poets passing through Glazner’s life and onto the page. Finally, the book ends with Glazner writing his own way into history.

I highly recommend this excellent memoir which wonderfully captures the mood of the 1960s.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

51 responses to “Life After America: A memoir about the wild and crazy 1960s

    • Being from Canada, we are so lucky – we got some wonderful Americans (ex-pat now). I know quite a few who have done much good work for Canada, and the world at large. The book looks like a good read for sure.

      • Denzil

        Hi Bruce, thanks for stopping by and giving the Canadian point of view. The author was certainly very impressed by the positive welcome he received in Montreal.

      • Thanks, Bruce. When you open the book, right on the dedication page, the first words are:Thank you, Canada. Life After America is dedicated to everyone who had ever imagined leaving their country and starting over someplace else, and to my love, Joanie Shirriff. It is a true homage to Canada in the 1960s as well as the American angst of those days.

        • A big thanks Joesph. I can only imagine the angst. I was in grade one in 63 and graduated 75. I only remember the TV images. My older brother Fred often gets asked in his travels to the US, what unit he served in. He always explains that he’s a Canadian and he didn’t serve. These fellows of his generation are always quite dumbfounded. It’s humbling to realize imagining leaving one’s country behind – the courage and uncertainties.

  1. Hans De Keulenaer

    Thanks for this recommendation Denzil. It sounds almost that you’d wish to have a 6-owl rating at your disposal. After all my heavy reading last year, I’m looking for some light, entertaining, non-fiction reading and it looks like very much sounds like it. Added to my goodreads list.

    • Denzil

      Thanks Paul. 5 minutes to write the review; 5 hours to find matching Beatles songs! (Slight exaggeration).

    • Thanks, Paul. The Montreal Bed-In was one of the most intriguing events of those years. I was so fortunate to not only see it from the inside but to participate. I hope you enjoy the book if you do get to read it.

      • Denzil

        P.S. Paul: When Joseph says he participated in the Bed-In, I don’t think he was actually under the covers with John and Yoko, unless he missed something out from the book!

  2. Well, I was around for it all, and this really does sound like a great memoir. I do remember how anyone was viewed who did not want to go to Vietnam, but this tells what one person did when he left the country. Nice review!

Why don't you drop TheBookOwl a message?