“What’s the matter with peace?

Flowers are better than bullets.”

Allison Beth Krause
April 23, 1951 – May 4, 1970
Sculpture with bullet hole at Kent State

Flowers Are Better Than Bullets will whisk you away on an emotional journey of life, love, and loss set against the tumultuous backdrop of the late ’60s and early ’70s.


Follow Johnny, a teenager from Lima, Ohio, as he navigates the complexities of love, the awakening of sexuality, and the potent drive to stand by his convictions. Johnny carves a new path away from an oppressive home and the looming military draft by seeking refuge at Kent State University in September 1969. During the second week of classes, he finds Katie, a kindred spirit burning bright with her zeal for peace. Their shared dream of a harmonious world soon becomes intertwined with their burgeoning love, as fiery as the demonstrations they join.


However, May 4, 1970, stands as a dark day that would forever change their lives. The tranquil grounds of Kent State University erupt in chao when heart-wrenching gunshots ring out, leaving behind a legacy of anguish and a call for justice. This traumatic event propels Johnny and Katie into a soul-searching expedition where they grapple with life’s fragility and the hefty price of holding steadfast to one’s principles.


Flowers Are Better Than Bullets is more than a chronicle of love amidst strife; it stands as an homage to a generation that boldly defied convention. Immerse yourself in the intense emotions, the unwavering aspirations, and the essence of resistance emblematic of a transformative period in history.


If you have an affinity for evocative historical fiction, poignant coming-of-age narratives, or tales highlighting love and resilience amid tumult, this novel is tailor-made for you.

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    You’ve probably heard the song “Ohio” performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with the refrain “Four Dead in Ohio.” It was written by band member, Neil Young, seventeen days after Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed student protestors at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.


    Flowers Are Better Than Bullets tells the story of what happened that day through the eyes of Johnny, an eighteen-year-old freshman from Lima, Ohio.

           Behind the meaning of the song “Ohio.”

    Click the  image to watch Rodney Dillman interviewed on “The Bobby O Show,” Episode 010 (Comcast Channel 23, Danbury, Connecticut, November 20, 2023)

    About the author

    Rodney Dillman

    Rodney Dillman, a native of Lima, Ohio, has a deep personal connection to Kent State, where he earned a B.S. in education and an M.A. in economics. He also holds a law degree from Duke University. After a career as an investment lawyer and corporate executive, Rodney turned his talents to creative writing. Flowers Are Better Than Bullets is his debut novel.


    Ready Aim Fire Website Bio Photo 3-28-23

    What People Say

    It brought me back to my youth.

    Loved reading this debut novel. If you grew up during the cultural rebellion of the late 60s and early 70s, you will relate to Johnny’s story, too.

    Diane P.

    Suffield, Connecticut

    I was hooked from the first page.

    The threads of conflict in Johnny’s life wove a fascinating tapestry from his relationship with his father to teachers to girlfriends to Kent State to Vietnam to the May 4, 1970, tragedy.

    Julia S.

    Topsail Beach, North Carolina

    Very readable book with engaging characters.

    The Vietnam War sharply divided the USA, and protests on college campuses were common. "Flowers Are Better Than Bullets" accurately portrays the emotion, politics and volatility of the spring of 1970.

    Carol B.

    Wilson, North Carolina

    This should be your next read.

    Whether or not you ever learned about love in the back of a Dodge, dreamed about the day you would finally escape from a life with no future in my little town, or lamented the somber lyrics of four dead in Ohio, this riveting page turner about life, love and loss should be your next read.

    Glenn C.

    Miami, Florida

    Great read!

    "Flowers Are Better Than Bullets" will speak to anyone who grew up in the 60s and the Vietnam War era. The author captures the conflict so many students felt between wanting to participate in peaceful demonstrations and the harsh reaction from the National Guard.

    Kathleen C.


    Excellent read. Really well thought out.

    Truly explores the different challenges of young adults maturing and trying to understand what is happening around them. Incredibly relatable. A must read.

    James C.

    Henderson, Kentucky

    A page turner...

    As the tragedy at Kent State developed, I was drawn in and felt Johnny’s confusion and changing feelings toward the situation. Would definitely recommend!

    Pamela R.

    Sanford, North Carolina

    Honest, heartfelt, passionate

    Overcoming family difficulties, figuring out academics, love, sex and direction. I truly related part of my growing up to the main character Johnny. This book will make you think, smile and reminisce.

    J. Carter


    Truly takes you back to the time and place

    Only after reading "Flowers Are Better Than Bullets" when Rodney Dillman surrounded me with the sights, sounds, and emotions of that time, could I share viscerally the impact of Kent State.

    Jean B

    Topsail Beach, North Carolina

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    Get your message across and I will respond in quick time.

      Rodney Dillman was born in Lima, Ohio, and is an author with a deep personal connection to Kent State University. He turned his talents to creative writing. This book is his debut novel.


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