Cover: Northern Passage: American Vietnam War Resisters in Canada, from Harvard University PressCover: Northern Passage in HARDCOVER

Northern Passage

American Vietnam War Resisters in Canada

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Product Details


$29.50 • £23.95 • €26.50

ISBN 9780674004719

Publication Date: 05/31/2001


288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

4 line illustrations, 15 tables


[A] generous-spirited book… [This] was a vivid, eventful period, and Northern Passage captures it deftly.National Post

Hagan offers a sociological perspective of the [Vietnam War] resisters, their effects on Canada, and their decision to return or not return to the U.S. after amnesty was offered. What is most interesting here are Canadians’ opinions of this American invasion.—Marlene Chamberlain, Booklist

Hagan thoughtfully explores a too-little-examined aspect of America’s Vietnam War experience. Calling on the memories of draft resisters, military deserters, spouses, girlfriends, and family members, he discusses the forces that compelled tens of thousands to undertake a political exodus to Canada that involved both individual declarations of resistance and a resistance movement that reshaped its participants, their loved ones, and Canada… Hagan skillfully examines the torturous path toward reconciliation that involved demands of amnesty for both draft resisters and deserters.—R. C. Cottrell, Choice

A searching…[and] quite moving account of the draft exiles of the Vietnam War… Perhaps more than 100,000 US citizens crossed the border to Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s to avoid military service in Vietnam. What sparked these actors to make so momentous a decision, and what (if anything) did it mean? …Hagan shines some welcome light on a long-forgotten issue, which he is able to address as both participant and observer.Kirkus Reviews

During the Vietnam War, 50,000 Americans…left to seek new lives in Canada. Hagan, who currently holds faculty appointments in both law and sociology at Northwestern University and the University of Toronto, was one of them. Here he presents narrative profiles and a thorough investigation, based on 100 interviews, of these expatriates and how they fared in their adopted city of Toronto. They have mostly enjoyed successful, fulfilling lives and have remained activists for a variety of political and environmental causes… This is a more detailed study of the war resisters than James Dickerson offers in North to Canada and is strongly recommended.—Karl Helicher, Library Journal

Writing for two audiences, Hagan…presents an earnest, thoughtful and respectful examination of American draft resisters who emigrated to Canada—as he did himself—rather than serve in the U.S. armed forces. Fellow academicians will welcome the parts of the book that are steeped in arcane and esoteric political process theory. General readers, particularly those of a certain age who were keenly conscious of America’s involvement in Vietnam, will be interested in better understanding the new lives the emigrants made… This is a very well-researched, scrupulously honest and generous book that gets facts right and seeks to set aside the divisive judgements of the time.Publishers Weekly

In his examination of the largest politically-motivated exodus from the U.S. since the American Revolution, John Hagan has made an important contribution to our understanding of one of the most painful periods in our nation’s history. But more than that, this book provides a fascinating look at the impact that the activist and politically-aware exiles have had on their adopted homeland and how that has permanently changed the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. Like Myra MacPherson’s Long Time Passing, John Hagan’s Northern Passage is destined to become required reading for anyone who wants to understand the Vietnam generation.—Former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder (D-CO)

There is much to admire in Northern Passage. For starters, Hagan’s account of the Vietnam-era migration of young Americans to Canada makes important and original contributions to the study of social movements, the life-course, and the role of law in social change processes. Then there is the exemplary blend of qualitative and quantitative methods that enriches the study. Finally, there is the story itself and the light it sheds on one of the most important and dynamic chapters in the long and complicated relationship between the U.S. and Canada.—Doug McAdam, Stanford University, author of Freedom Summer

Awards & Accolades

  • 2003 Albert J. Reiss Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award, Crime, Law, and Deviance Section of the American Sociological Association
Common Reads: First-Year Experience [picture of open book]

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