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Gates of Eden: Fact or fiction?

How do we remember those who protested the Vietnam War? Were they hippies, revolutionaries, or terrorists? Millions of baby boomers came of age during the 1960s, each bearing his or her differing — often conflicting — impressions.

Generation X missed out but many are curious about the rebellion and counterculture that preceded them. And what about today’s young people? What do they understand about the Vietnam War and the resistance movement that rose up on the same campuses many of them attend today?

Enter Gates of Eden, a new novel that may provide educators with a unique resource to help students explore an often-obscured era. Gates of Eden follows a handful of young rebels as they grow up absurd in 1950s America and rush headlong into the social and political upheavals of the Sixties. Released by Harvard Square Editions in 2012, Gates immediately garnered a medal for historical fiction from the prestigious Independent Publishers Book Awards.

As a teaching resource, Gates of Eden couldn’t be more timely or appropriate. The long, undeclared war in Vietnam grew to embrace every strata of American society. Its impact still reverberates through our lives. But how much do people recall? And for those who came later. . . Do they understand the parallels and differences between then and now?

For a U.S. history or political science teacher, what better way to explore an oft-misunderstood era than through a story told through the hearts, minds, and voices of an earlier generation that dared rise up against the military-industrial juggernaut.

For the student of literature, Gates of Eden provides an opportunity to investigate the boundaries between fact and fiction or how literature can become a resource for social change. Whether the reader be a baby boomer, a curious GenXer, or a student coming of age in a war-torn 21st century, Gates of Eden has the potential to open a window on the Vietnam era and celebrate the elaborate dance that can unfold between history and literature.

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