REVIEW of Richard Gould's book Refusal to Submit,
by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
Richard Gould, a Vietnam draft resister, has written a beautifully crafted and deeply personal memoir that sheds light on a little known but critical aspect of the era. Although millions of Americans opposed the war and the draft, few had the courage to go to prison for their beliefs. Motivated by his desire to explain his rational to his children, Gould lays out the life course that led him to knowing resisting the draft was his only option. But more important was his ability to act on that belief without regret even though he knew it would lead to prison. In his effort to explain that decision to his children, Gould captures the meaning behind the contradictions of the Vietnam era with a clarity that could only be appreciated by a draft resister who knew what he was really resisting. By embracing resistance over war, Gould transformed the negative force expressed in war into its polarity, the positive force of resistance to war. That choice summons Gould’s powerful spiritual energy that tempers the hard prison time in unexpected and convincing ways. Everyone interested in how that transformation to self-empowerment takes place will be mesmerized by his thoughtful process.
Americans need to start having a serious dialogue about what it really means to resist fighting in our nation's wars. Refusal to Submit deserves to be on the top of the book list for that discussion! Richard Gould and all the other “Warriors of Resistance to the Vietnam War,” are the unsung heroes of that era. It’s a story that should be read over and over again and we must never forget its self-empowering message.