Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson (PM Press, 2011)

Synopsis: “We are not worth more, they are not worth less.” This is the mantra of S. Brian Willson and the theme that runs throughout his compelling psycho-historical memoir. Willson’s story begins in small-town, rural America, where he grew up as a “Commie-hating, baseball-loving Baptist,” moves through life-changing experiences in Viet Nam, Nicaragua and elsewhere, and culminates with his commitment to a localized, sustainable lifestyle.


S. Brian Willson is a Viet Nam veteran and trained lawyer whose wartime experiences transformed him into a revolutionary nonviolent pacifist. He gained renown as a participant in a prominent 1986 veterans fast on the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The fast was in response to funding of Reagan’s Contra wars in Central America. One year later, on September 1, 1987, he was again thrust into the public eye when he was run over and nearly killed by a US Navy Munitions train while engaging in a nonviolent blockade in protest of weapons shipments to El Salvador. Since the 1980s he has continued efforts to educate the public about the diabolical nature of US imperialism while striving to “walk his talk” (on two prosthetic legs and a three-wheeled handcycle) by creating a model of right livelihood.


The first leg of Brian’s book tour, June 24–July 24, 2011, he cycled from Portland, Oregon to the San Francisco Bay Area on his three-wheeled, arm-powered handcycle, accompanied by Portland cyclist Joel Finkelstein.

The second leg, August 31–September 11, 2011, he rode on Amtrak to Southern California, where he was ferried by Frank Dorrel to many book events, from Ventura to Culver City to Pasadena.

The third leg, made possible by an Amtrak 45-day rail pass generously sponsored by the Western New York Peace Center, kicked off in Cleveland on October 12, 2011. The seven-week trip stretched into late November with stops in New York State, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC, culminating with an appearance at  SOA Watch’s November Vigil in Columbus, Georgia.

A much shorter NW regional book tour in early 2012 made stops in Washington State and British Columbia.

A second Southern California book tour unfolds August 16-19 with five separate gigs planned for Malibu, Echo Park, Topanga, Redlands and Long Beach.