Between the Lines: 1968 Plus 50

May 8, 2018

A hospital corpsman holds the hand of the seriously wounded U.S. Marine as he's evacuated from Khe Sanh during the 1968 Tet Offensive
Credit Rick Merron / AP Photo

A conversation over Thanksgiving dinner inspired Portage resident Tony Edwin, known as Tony Ettwein to his friends, to compile the events and milestones of a single year, one day at a time. That year was 1968. Looking back half-a-century later, Edwin says he realized that it was a year like no other. His new book book is 1968 Plus 50: Looking back at the historic, tumultuous year of 1968.


“1968 was a unique year,” Edwin says. “Within the 20th century there was no other year that had as many major events, either in terms of number of events as well as the impact of those events. We are still seeing that impact today.”

In a daily log format, Edwin describes the events of 1968 , large and small. The Vietnam War looms large, especially the Tet Offensive, which turned America’s public attitude toward the war from relatively favorable to a belief that it was not winnable. There were revolutions elsewhere in the world that year. And two major public figures - Rev. Martin Luther King, Junior, and U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy - were assassinated. There were race riots in many U.S. cities, the Apollo mission around the moon, and many other events in the areas of sports, entertainment, the arts, and technology.

Credit Amazon

Asked about events in 1968 that may have received less media and public attention, Edwin points to one on December 9th.

“One event that really stood out was an event in San Francisco. It (involved) a gentleman named Douglas Engelbart, an inventor and technological genius and engineer. He wanted to use technology to help people. He wanted to find ways that people could work together on multiple computers, so he gave a 90-minute public demonstration. They called it the 'Demonstration for All the Ages,' or the 'Mother of All Demos.' He demonstrated for the first time the computer mouse, the video conference, word processing, network computers, teleconferencing, file linking, revision control, and a hypertext system that is critical to much of the work we do today in sharing information.”

Tony Edwin will participate in two events at Barnes & Noble, 6134 South Westnedge Avenue, in Portage. On Sunday, May 20, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., he'll be at the Meet & Greet With Local Authors, and on Thursday, May 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Edwin will appear at Hometown Reads, the Kalamazoo Author Group Meet and Greet. Both events are free and open to the public.

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