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Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Author: Steve Sheinkin
Publisher: Published September 22nd 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
ISBN: 9781596439528
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port Chicago 50 and Bomb comes a tense, exciting exploration of what the Times deemed "the greatest story of the century": how Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose the government's deceit. On June 13, 1971, the front page of From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port Chicago 50 and Bomb comes a tense, exciting exploration of what the Times deemed "the greatest story of the century": how Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose the government's deceit. On June 13, 1971, the front page of the New York Times announced the existence of a 7,000-page collection of documents containing a secret history of the Vietnam War. Known as The Pentagon Papers, these documents had been comissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Chronicling every action the government had taken in the Vietnam War, they revealed a pattern of deception spanning over twenty years and four presidencies, and forever changed the relationship between American citizens and the politicans claiming to represent their interests. A provocative book that interrogates the meanings of patriotism, freedom, and integrity, Most Dangerous further establishes Steve Sheinkin as a leader in children's nonfiction.

30 review for Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    Written for middle school age children, this book races along like a political thriller and will hook most readers, this adult included, with its all too real story from the Vietnam War era. I was in high school when the top secret Pentagon Papers were printed in newspapers around the country, so I remember Daniel Ellsberg and the revelations he made public, but author Steve Sheinkin fills in details that were unknown at the time, at least by me. For people who weren’t alive then, this history w Written for middle school age children, this book races along like a political thriller and will hook most readers, this adult included, with its all too real story from the Vietnam War era. I was in high school when the top secret Pentagon Papers were printed in newspapers around the country, so I remember Daniel Ellsberg and the revelations he made public, but author Steve Sheinkin fills in details that were unknown at the time, at least by me. For people who weren’t alive then, this history will present them with an unsettling look at the motivations of past presidents, both Democratic and Republican. None of them wanted to be the first American leader to lose a war, so the military action in Vietnam dragged on and on, while the number of people killed continued to climb with no possible victory in sight. Watergate and Nixon’s eventual resignation are covered as part of the events surrounding the release of the Pentagon Papers. It was a very different cultural climate then--a divisive time when four students protesting the war were shot and killed by the National Guard at Kent State University--but there are obvious parallels to even that story in some of today’s news headlines. The book finishes with a “hero or villain?” discussion of Edward Snowden and his more recent actions exposing classified CIA documents. This is a thorough and thoughtful introduction for young people that will be interesting for many adults too.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This isn't a thorough biography, but it is very readable & Sheinkin did a great job of sticking to the topic at hand. The book may have been written for a younger audience, but I enjoyed it thoroughly & thought he did a great job. It was very well narrated, too. Few remember just how crazy things were back then. A lot was happening of vast importance & so many others try to tie the disparate pieces together. It's too much: Civil Rights, China, the Cold War, Yom Kippur War, & plent This isn't a thorough biography, but it is very readable & Sheinkin did a great job of sticking to the topic at hand. The book may have been written for a younger audience, but I enjoyed it thoroughly & thought he did a great job. It was very well narrated, too. Few remember just how crazy things were back then. A lot was happening of vast importance & so many others try to tie the disparate pieces together. It's too much: Civil Rights, China, the Cold War, Yom Kippur War, & plenty more. For instance, at the end Sheinkin discusses Nixon's resignation & how the Vice President, Gerald Ford, saw him off. No mention of Agnew at all. Yes, that leaves a lot out, but Agnew's issues don't really add anything to this narrative save that it was one more nail in Nixon's coffin. He makes a brief & very facile comparison between Ellsberg & Snowden. While I'm sure Snowden isn't Philip Agee I'm not sure he's Ellsberg, either. Anyway, I didn't care much for that comparison done in that manner. If nothing else, it went beyond the scope of the book turning a factual account into a political statement. It's good to be reminded of what Ellsberg did & why he did it in these times when political corruption is as rife as ever. While I don't think he said so directly, Sheinkin made the point well that this was the end of the US' latest tryst with trust of government officials since even the beloved JFK got tarred with the Pentagon Paper's brush. More than that, this illustrates "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." He shows very well how each president from Ike to Nixon made the exact same mistake over & over. I wonder when/if anyone will apply this to the Middle East? Ellsberg realized that the true cost of the war wasn't in munitions expended or enemy soldiers killed, but in the civilian lives & environmental damage. Highly recommended, even if you were there. Perhaps especially so. Be sure to pass it on.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Kennedy

    This is the story of Ellsberg's release of 7,000 pages of Top Secret Pentagon papers revealing five president's continuing unsuccessful strategies in Vietnam. From Truman to Nixon, the American people were deceived by reports of progress (if we add more service men or bomb more cities in the North) when the war was not possible to win. Ellsberg's conversion from a Pentagon and Rand Corp wartime strategist to the advocate for stopping the war is a revealing of the conviction of a man's mind and s This is the story of Ellsberg's release of 7,000 pages of Top Secret Pentagon papers revealing five president's continuing unsuccessful strategies in Vietnam. From Truman to Nixon, the American people were deceived by reports of progress (if we add more service men or bomb more cities in the North) when the war was not possible to win. Ellsberg's conversion from a Pentagon and Rand Corp wartime strategist to the advocate for stopping the war is a revealing of the conviction of a man's mind and soul. And that choice was a factor in changing American history. Essential reading for Citizens then and now.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Monica Edinger

    This is an outstanding presentation of a very difficult time in US history. Sheinkin has managed to distill some very complex stuff into a compelling and, at times, compulsive read. Even for me who has a vivid recollection of much that is in the book*, seeing those bumbling Plumbers at work, reading Nixon's comments, and being reminded of the horror of what we saw on the nightly news and newspapers as to what was going on in Southeast Asia made for a riveting reading experience. It fascinated me This is an outstanding presentation of a very difficult time in US history. Sheinkin has managed to distill some very complex stuff into a compelling and, at times, compulsive read. Even for me who has a vivid recollection of much that is in the book*, seeing those bumbling Plumbers at work, reading Nixon's comments, and being reminded of the horror of what we saw on the nightly news and newspapers as to what was going on in Southeast Asia made for a riveting reading experience. It fascinated me that Sheinkin is too young to have experienced any of this so for him it is pure history. And his decisions in what to include, how to tell it, and how to shape what he told to make a certain point was superb. And as he did in Bomb, he wrote sections here as a thriller or heist --- making you turning the pages as fast as you can. He find the perfect small fact to highlight --- say one of the Plumbers' peculiar method of creating a limp and why he does so. As for the ending featuring Snowden, spot-on. *I lived and remember a great deal of what is covered in the book. Not only because I was a teen and young adult during much of the time period of this book, leading and participating in various anti-war actions, but also because of my father, a political scientist (and Holocaust survivor) he was highly liberal and anti-war (he took me to my very first demonstration against the war),and knew many of the figures that show up in this account. And so as I saw their names I also saw and heard my father --- remembering his anger and outrage. He was especially proud of having led a fight at his institution --- Columbia University --- to keep Henry Kissinger from joining his department as he considered the man a war criminal for his part in the War, especially the escalation and the bombing of Cambodia. And I well remember the escalating Watergate scandal culminating in Nixon's resignation the day I flew off to Sierra Leone as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars ‘Perspective is everything.’ Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst at the Pentagon in 1964. He worked under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and had access to confidential documents which were never reported to the American people, but it was a part of his job to keep that information contained. He visited Vietnam personally and seeing the war firsthand irrevocably changed his understanding and opinion of the United States’ fight with Vietnam. Upon his return, his My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars ‘Perspective is everything.’ Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst at the Pentagon in 1964. He worked under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and had access to confidential documents which were never reported to the American people, but it was a part of his job to keep that information contained. He visited Vietnam personally and seeing the war firsthand irrevocably changed his understanding and opinion of the United States’ fight with Vietnam. Upon his return, his help was enlisted in compiling a top secret document of which the president wasn’t even made aware of on the conduct of the Vietnam War. The 7,000 page document was a wake up call for Ellsberg as he resolved to make the American people aware of the vast conspiracy of lies that had been going on for several decades. The story is a most shocking one, detailing the years of deception from not just a single president but four including their administrations over the course of twenty-three years. Going into this story, I was fairly oblivious to the history of the Vietnam War. I am not normally a non-fiction reader, however, I welcomed the prospect of being able to familiarize myself with something that is such a huge part of American history. My sole reservation (which is the same reservation I have for all non-fiction stories) is that it’ll end up reading like a dull textbook. Well, rest assured, Sheinkin has transformed the history of the Vietnam War while interlacing it with Daniel Ellsberg’s involvement to create one well-researched thriller that is both informative and captivating. I was curious about the fact that this is a non-fiction story targeted to young adult readers, but it makes sense now. Most young adult readers these days won’t be well versed in this time period (as I am/was) and I almost think that going into this story knowing very little about the history is a benefit. The way this story is told will undoubtedly kindle an interest in this time period leading readers to pick up additional books that will further elucidate. Interestingly enough, in the epilogue the connection is made between Ellsberg’s actions and that of Edward Snowden’s who in 2013 released details of classified United States government surveillance programs. Decades separate the two incidents, yet it’s clear that the government is still far from candid. Ellsberg’s story not only illuminates an important part of American history but it helps to illustrate how our government and society became how it is today.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dana Stabenow

    This book begins with a crime commissioned directly by President Richard Nixon. They came to California to ruin a man. Not to kill him, not literally. But the next best thing. The man was Daniel Ellsberg. "They" were Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, aka the Plumbers, surveiling Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office so they can burgle his records for dirt on Ellsberg, who had just released the Pentagon Papers to the press. The Pentagon Papers was a study commissioned in 1967 by Robert McNamara, a clear, ir This book begins with a crime commissioned directly by President Richard Nixon. They came to California to ruin a man. Not to kill him, not literally. But the next best thing. The man was Daniel Ellsberg. "They" were Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, aka the Plumbers, surveiling Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office so they can burgle his records for dirt on Ellsberg, who had just released the Pentagon Papers to the press. The Pentagon Papers was a study commissioned in 1967 by Robert McNamara, a clear, irrefutable paper trail 7,000 pages long of every bad decision the US made in the Vietnam War, including beginning it in the first place. Enter our hero, no sarcasm intended. Polls showed that a large majority of Americans wanted no part of a war in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson told them what they wanted hear. Again and again he declared, "We seek no wider war." Daniel Ellsberg did not vote in the presidential election of 1964. He was too busy planning a wider war. Ellsberg was a defense analyst, an ex-marine who truly believed in the righteousness of the US's cause in Vietnam. He believed absolutely that the US war on Communism was just and necessary. He believed absolutely in the dominoes. Until, that is, he spent two years in Vietnam at our embassy there, going all over the countryside and going in country with the troops and taking and returning enemy fire. He returns to Washington, D.C., convinced that the war is unwinnable, and where [h]is hope was to use his position as an insider to influence key decision makers. It did not go as planned...What really struck Ellsberg was that government leaders [in the LBJ administration] seemed to have learned nothing from three years of failure in Vietnam. Even more maddening was the lack of any sense of urgency to change course. Ellsberg knew about the Pentagon Papers and he talked a friend into giving Rand, where he was working, a copy. He spent the summer of 1969 reading them, and his conclusions were bitter indeed. What struck him was the pattern of deception--and how clearly it was documented..."So we opposed elections," Ellsberg concluded as he read, "while pretending to support democracy."..."What I had in my safe at Rand," Ellsberg would later recall, "was seven thousand pages of documentary evidence of lying, by four presidents and their administrations over twenty-three years." [McNamara himself knew this full well. "You know," McNamara said [in 1967], referring to the growing pile of papers, "they could hang people for what's in there." If only we had. Maybe George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld might have had second thoughts about waltzing so blithely into Iraq.] Ellsberg talks to Walt Rostow, to Henry Kissinger, he gives a copy of the Pentagon Papers to Senator J. William Fulbright, but everyone is afraid of losing the next election. So Ellsberg starts talking to the New York Times, who eventually publish them, all of them only after the Supreme Court gives Nixon a class in First Amendment 101. Ellsberg makes more copies and gives them to more newspapers, his stepmother-in-law rats him out to the FBI and pretty soon he's on trial, but by then the Nixon presidency is crumbling beneath the accumulated revelations about Watergate and the aforementioned Plumbers, who were the biggest bunch of clowns ever seen outside of Barnum and Bailey. The night they got busted by the security guard? Was their fourth attempt to burgle the Democrats' offices. It never seems to have occurred to Nixon that the Pentagon Papers revelations might be cause for reflection, for review of US policy in the Vietnam conflict. No, all he can think about is destroying Daniel Ellsberg, the man who revealed them to the American public. (Who I would point out were against the war from the beginning, which only goes to show how much smarter we are than the people we elect). Most damning of all: "No American president, Republican or Democrat, wanted to be the president who lost the war or who lost Saigon," Ellsberg realized. "They were willing to send men and women to death to avoid being called losers. They would rather keep going, no matter how many people died, to save face. In Vietnam, the crucial thing was, don't lose." Sheinkin's prose is workmanlike in a reportorial way, just the facts, ma'am, but all the facts are here (including the appalling information that Nixon undermined LBJ's attempts make peace with Ho Chi Minh so he could win the 1968 election, and this while American soldiers were dying in Vietnam), and so is what everyone was thinking (or later said they were). The saddest part of this story isn't the 58,000+ American dead, the 300,000+ American wounded, and the (only an estimation) 2 million Vietnamese dead in this totally unwarranted and completely unjustifiable conflict. No, the saddest part is that once the Pentagon Papers revealed how determined the White House, the Pentagon, the Defense Department and the Department of State were to hide the truth from the American people, the fictionalized attacks in the Tonkin Gulf, the body counts, the secret bombings? US citizens just flat stopped believing anything anyone in government said. Most terrifying of all is the epilogue, which deals with Edward Snowdon. Was Snowdon a hero for blowing the whistle on a perilous threat to the basic liberties guaranteed to all Americans?...President Barak Obama's position was clear: he considered Snowden a dangerous criminal. "If any individual who objects to government policy can take it in their own hands to publicly disclose classified information," Obama charged, "then we will not be able to keep our people safe, or conduct foreign policy."... To many Americans, this was starting to sound very familiar.[emphasis mine] No shit. I read this book in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. I've been saying for a while now that some of the best writing going on is happening in YA literature. Here is a perfect example. Highly, highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristy Miller

    I'm fairly well versed in political history, but I didn't know much about Ellsberg or the Pentagon Papers before this. I had always been drawn to the larger events around him, like the Kennedy administration and Watergate. I knew that some documents had been leaked from the Pentagon that shed light on what was happening in Vietnam, but not much else. So this was a truly enlightening book. Sheinkin tells how Ellsberg went from Pentagon insider to anti-war hero. He goes through how we went from vi I'm fairly well versed in political history, but I didn't know much about Ellsberg or the Pentagon Papers before this. I had always been drawn to the larger events around him, like the Kennedy administration and Watergate. I knew that some documents had been leaked from the Pentagon that shed light on what was happening in Vietnam, but not much else. So this was a truly enlightening book. Sheinkin tells how Ellsberg went from Pentagon insider to anti-war hero. He goes through how we went from viewing Vietnam as a WWII ally to the decades long American military disaster that it became, to Watergate and the toppling of a presidency. All explained in straightforward, plain terms. This book is probably the best explanation of the political motives behind Vietnam that I have ever read. It is listed as young adult, but I'd say it is for everyone. Even if you were alive at the time of the events (I was not) this was all very confusing and secretive. And I would say that this, along with All the President's Men (many character cross-overs with that one) and Spotlight emphasize how important a free press is, and that journalism is more than writing a blog. It is a heavy responsibility in our country. A responsibility to tell the facts and the truth. This is a book that makes me want to read more on the topic, and will have me thinking about it for a long time to come. I can't give higher praise than that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    When Steve Sheinkin writes, readers listen, and for good reason. His nonfiction is generally evenhanded and researched comprehensively to provide clear explanation of the material and how it's relevant to us. Steve Sheinkin rose to renown after the release of Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, a 2013 Newbery Honor book, but he produced respected nonfiction before that and would continue doing so after. In 2015 came his most in-depth treatise yet, Most Dangerous: When Steve Sheinkin writes, readers listen, and for good reason. His nonfiction is generally evenhanded and researched comprehensively to provide clear explanation of the material and how it's relevant to us. Steve Sheinkin rose to renown after the release of Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, a 2013 Newbery Honor book, but he produced respected nonfiction before that and would continue doing so after. In 2015 came his most in-depth treatise yet, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, to more accolades and awards. United States involvement in Vietnam started before Lyndon B. Johnson or Richard M. Nixon took the presidential oath, before Daniel Ellsberg earned insider status with the American government. Dislodging communism in that part of Asia, where North Vietnam fought to overwhelm South Vietnam and install a totalitarian regime, was a problem at least as far back as the Harry S. Truman administration. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy had their own headaches with Vietnam, attempting to stave off the communists, avoid war, and conceal related information that reflected badly on their presidencies, but Vietnam didn't turn into all-out war until Lyndon Johnson took office. Without telling U.S. citizens exactly what he was doing, Johnson sent ground troops and initiated a bombing blitz, hoping to force the Viet Cong to reconsider their takeover of South Vietnam. It was the start of a war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers and badly damaged public faith in the government. Johnson kept many of his decisions secret, tailoring the information he released to give a favorable view of how the war was going. But Daniel Ellsberg, a young bureaucrat privy to the internal briefings of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Assistant Secretary John McNaughton, knew better. The gap between what was said to the press and what President Johnson was actually doing was wide and growing steadily. Ellsberg tried to ignore his own misgivings; he believed what the U.S. was doing in Vietnam was right, and he could tolerate some dishonesty from the president if it advanced that goal. Though Ellsberg privately felt it would be best to disengage from Vietnam as soon as possible, his pro-U.S. stance felt to his girlfriend like pro-war sentiment, and the conflict it caused between them further bothered Ellsberg about the government's lies. A faux pas with classified documents led to Ellsberg's demotion, but he still worked in proximity to top-secret files that could rip the cover off decades of coverups regarding Vietnam. When he could no longer resist sneaking a look through the documents, he learned that the trail of deception went back to Truman, and every American president since had lied about Vietnam. Ellsberg had enough information to end the coverup, but could he make it public without destroying his life? Ellsberg had personal troubles, too. He rarely saw his son and daughter from his first marriage. Patricia Marx, his girlfriend, doubted he could be a stable husband, and they hesitated to commit to each other. Amidst all this uncertainty, and the election of President Nixon, Daniel Ellsberg decided to do something with the thousands of pages he had that detailed years of Vietnam coverups. With the help of friends, Ellsberg took the Pentagon Papers—as they came to be called—from the office at night and made copies, but his actions didn't go unnoticed. When Ellsberg found out the FBI was on his tail, he distributed copies of the papers to allies across the country. If he were caught before leaking the classified information, odds were at least one of his helpers could finish the job. The government conspiracy went to pieces when The New York Times published a portion of the Pentagon Papers Ellsberg had leaked to them, proving corruption in the Oval Office the people should have been alerted to years ago. Ellsberg was trying to get the rest of the papers published before he could be apprehended, but the Nixon administration didn't make it easy. The Justice Department ordered newspapers in New York, D.C., Chicago, and beyond to desist from printing the confidential files, but Ellsberg stayed a few steps ahead, giving copies of the documents to other newspapers. His job done, Ellsberg turned himself in to authorities and hoped Americans would now demand the government transparency that could have prevented the mess in Vietnam. Everyone knew the truth about the war, but Ellsberg was in trouble. Accused of espionage and treason, compared to the notorious Benedict Arnold, Ellsberg faced the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. President Nixon wasn't content to let the prosecution settle his score with the man he believed had betrayed America. Nixon dispatched a team of covert operatives nicknamed the Plumbers to discredit Daniel Ellsberg. If Americans believed they couldn't trust him, they might rethink the validity of the Pentagon Papers. The Plumbers were unsuccessful, however, at finding an accusation to levy against Ellsberg. Moving on to illegally assisting Nixon's reelection campaign, they bungled that job too, and led investigators back to the president. With this fresh evidence of criminal government behavior toward Ellsberg, public outcry increased to dismiss all charges against him for publishing the Pentagon Papers. Richard Nixon was on the verge of impeachment and removal from office, and popular support for the Vietnam War was virtually nonexistent. Daniel Ellsberg's odyssey became a cautionary tale of government overreach and propaganda, and the U.S. learned a grave lesson about the harm that ill-considered foreign policy can do at home and abroad. Trust in the presidency would never be the same again. Was the U.S. right to go to war in Vietnam? Daniel Ellsberg didn't believe so after personally touring Vietnam and then reading the Pentagon Papers. American leadership had secretly worked to prevent democratic elections in a unified Vietnam because they knew communists would be voted in. They also knew the people of South Vietnam would rather the war end immediately even if they lost. Does this mean the U.S. was unjustified in perpetuating the war? Maybe not. America had seen communism in action, responsible for as many as one hundred million deaths in the twentieth century. Allowing North Vietnam to overtake its southern neighbor would plummet both into poverty and despotism. Could sabotaging a democratic vote be the best thing for democracy? The U.S. had reason to believe that was the case in Vietnam. But Ellsberg knew that Americans at least deserved to have all the information, so he was faced with a conundrum. Is it ever moral for a government operative to leak classified data? President Lyndon Johnson didn't think so. A government employee, he said, has the right to argue his case within the government. "But once a decision has been made, he has an equal obligation to carry it out with all his energy and wisdom...If he cannot do so in good conscience, he should resign. He has no right to sabotage his president and his own government from within." Does that include if the government is systematically deceiving its people, treating them like an enemy populace? Or does someone like Daniel Ellsberg then have a responsibility to lift the lid and reveal the rot inside? That's a hard ethical question, and presidents usually side with Johnson. Barack Obama did four decades after the Ellsberg drama, when Edward Snowden blew the whistle on massive illegal government surveillance of U.S. citizens. Being president of the United States is strenuous under any circumstances, and insider leaks make it worse. Johnson realized this by the end of his term. "I reflected on how inadequate any man is for the office of the American Presidency...The magnitude of the job dwarfs every man who aspires to it." Keep that in mind that when judging presidents, and try not to be unreasonably critical. That goes a long way in bridging ideological gaps between us. Political rhetoric tends toward divisiveness, toward personally attacking those who disagree with us because it can be advantageous to do so in debate, but that doesn't help settle on the best policies in the long run. President Nixon's insightful comments on the subject are recorded in this book: "Let us all understand that the question before us is not whether some Americans are for peace and some are against peace...The great question is: How can we win America's peace?" Your political foes aren't in favor of poverty, chaos, and destruction even if you're tempted to conclude they are. Most of us want the best world possible, and working together is the only way to make it reality. I loved Steve Sheinkin's Newbery Honor book, Bomb. Most Dangerous is intelligent literature too, but I'd put it several notches lower. Avoiding the political pitfalls of writing about Vietnam is challenging, and I'm not sure it's managed perfectly in this book. Perhaps more blame is placed on the presidents than should be, and not enough on the ninety-fourth Congress under President Gerald R. Ford, which reneged on its promise to support South Vietnam if their northern counterpart violated the Paris Peace Accords. But at least the presidents are criticized without respect to political party. Most Dangerous isn't as emotionally affecting as Bomb, and doesn't have the resounding conclusion that book had, but it clarifies some complex issues of Vietnam policy and the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon's presidency. I give the book two and a half stars, and my recommendation to fans of detailed history. Steve Sheinkin knows how to tell a compelling story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    Although I was in school when Watergate and the Pentagon Papers were big stories, I was only beginning to be politically aware. In fact, I spent many afternoons after school watching the Watergate Hearings broadcast live on TV. Even so, I have always been unclear on exactly what the link was between the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-in, among other aspects of the complicated stories. Steve Sheinkin does a fantastic job of describing the events in a step by step fashion, so that the whol Although I was in school when Watergate and the Pentagon Papers were big stories, I was only beginning to be politically aware. In fact, I spent many afternoons after school watching the Watergate Hearings broadcast live on TV. Even so, I have always been unclear on exactly what the link was between the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-in, among other aspects of the complicated stories. Steve Sheinkin does a fantastic job of describing the events in a step by step fashion, so that the whole convoluted thing actually makes sense. It's written for middle school aged kids, about the same age as I was at the time of the events. It's crystal clear and exciting as well. For much of the book it follows the actions of Daniel Ellsberg, a government analyst who slowly shifted from supporting the Vietnam War as a necessary war against communism to opposing the war as a hopeless cause that was killing thousands of Vietnamese civilians and American soldiers. He discovered that the architects of the war, beginning with Dwight Eisenhower, had realized early on that Communist North Vietnam could only be defeated with total war, they continued to fight a halfhearted war that achieved nothing. Lyndon Johnson's Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, was replaced by Johnson when McNamara dared to voice these concerns. The story of Ellsberg's decision to make public the top secret documents that revealed this inside knowledge is the stuff of spy stories made even more thrilling by being factual. Sheinkin wraps it up by bringing the issues central to the Vietnam War crisis up to the present day story of Edward Snowden leaking classified information to journalists. Highly recommended to young students as well as their parents and grandparents.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aj Sterkel

    A few years ago, I dragged a carryon wheelie suitcase through two airports. The suitcase contained a bunch of books and 1,500 pages of documents. The suitcase was so heavy that several kindly strangers had to help me wrestle it onto the plane and into the overhead bin. Good thing my documents weren’t secret because people kept asking me what the hell was in the suitcase. Can you imagine dragging around a 7,000-page top-secret document? A document that you’ve stolen from the government and plan t A few years ago, I dragged a carryon wheelie suitcase through two airports. The suitcase contained a bunch of books and 1,500 pages of documents. The suitcase was so heavy that several kindly strangers had to help me wrestle it onto the plane and into the overhead bin. Good thing my documents weren’t secret because people kept asking me what the hell was in the suitcase. Can you imagine dragging around a 7,000-page top-secret document? A document that you’ve stolen from the government and plan to leak to journalists? That’s over 200 pounds of paper that you have to move. Secretly. Carrying it around without getting caught would be a terrifying experience. According to my mom, they didn’t even have wheelie suitcases when The Pentagon Papers were leaked in the 1970s! Most Dangerous tells the true story of Daniel Ellsberg, a US government employee who helped plan the Vietnam War. After years of working for the government, Ellsberg became annoyed at the blatant lies that four different presidents told the American public. Ellsberg thought Americans should know the truth about the war. He took a 7,000-page secret report from his office and leaked it to the media. Was Ellsberg a hero for exposing the truth, or a villain for betraying his country? I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. I’ve read nonfiction books about the government before and found them dry. Luckily, that isn’t the case with Most Dangerous. The pace moves like a thriller novel, and the author doesn’t leave out any of the scandalous (or slightly gory) details. I love that the author includes quotes from soldiers and photos from Vietnam. It shows the reasoning behind Daniel Ellsberg’s decision to leak the documents. People were dying in Vietnam because Washington couldn’t get its act together. I can understand Ellsberg’s frustration. I’m always astounded at the selfishness of politicians. By refusing to admit mistakes, they often make things worse instead of better. Several presidents kept the Vietnam War going because they “didn’t want to be the president who lost a war.” As a presidential candidate, Nixon undermined peace talks in Vietnam. He wanted to prolong the war so that the American public would be outraged enough to elect him. Then he could be the president who “won” the war. Um . . . what? You’re killing people so you can get a job? Why would you think that was okay? This book just proves that I don’t understand politicians and could never be one. Most Dangerous kept me awake way past bedtime. I kept thinking, One more chapter, one more chapter. Then it was 2:00 in the morning, and I’d finished the book. Even if you’re not in love with politics, it’s worth reading. It’s full of twists that will make your jaw drop. This is definitely not a textbook. I plowed through most of it in one night and then immediately started Googling the books in the author’s Works Cited section to find out more. Most Dangerous ends with an epilogue about Edward Snowden and how leaking documents has changed since the 1970s. Even though Ellsberg leaked The Pentagon Papers before I (and many other readers) were born, they’re still very relevant today.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Grace {Rebel Mommy Book Blog}

    Review I had this book on my wishlist because of AJ over Read All the Things! I found the subject of the book - Daniel Ellsberg and him releasing the Pentagon Papers which was a 7,000 page top secret document on the Vietnam war - very interesting. A lot of that has to do with my dad was drafted into the war when he was 19. I really wanted to understand more about the war because I am horrible with my history. I listened to this one and it was a fabulous audio. I couldn't stop listening. Even th Review I had this book on my wishlist because of AJ over Read All the Things! I found the subject of the book - Daniel Ellsberg and him releasing the Pentagon Papers which was a 7,000 page top secret document on the Vietnam war - very interesting. A lot of that has to do with my dad was drafted into the war when he was 19. I really wanted to understand more about the war because I am horrible with my history. I listened to this one and it was a fabulous audio. I couldn't stop listening. Even though this was non fiction it was almost told in a more story-like fashion. I was also horrified by a lot of what happened and how there were so many lies. It also had me talking to my dad about the war more than I ever had and I liked hearing his stories. I suggest this one if you are at all intrigued by the blurb and the audio route is a great way to go. Review This was a book I knew I had to read because everyone loved it. Plus the illustrations looked amazing. I am so glad it was one of the books picked in the Make Me Read It readathon for me. I really enjoyed the whole expierence of reading the book because of the story and the illustrations. It was so emotional and man did I have the tears. I knew I would have tears going in and sometimes that makes me not cry but not this time. Nope there was lots of crying. Still, it was just a beautiful book that I think everyone should read.This review was originally posted on Rebel Mommy Book Blog

  12. 4 out of 5

    ❤Marie Gentilcore

    This book made me remember why I hate politics because reading about crooked dealings and outright lies to the public just makes me feel so powerless and angry. I was just a baby during the Vietnam war so I was very interested to learn about this part of history. In the last couple of years I've read a lot about WW2 so it was good to learn about this war. And, this book was well written and told in a way which made it compelling. I do feel conflicted though about leaking top secret information. This book made me remember why I hate politics because reading about crooked dealings and outright lies to the public just makes me feel so powerless and angry. I was just a baby during the Vietnam war so I was very interested to learn about this part of history. In the last couple of years I've read a lot about WW2 so it was good to learn about this war. And, this book was well written and told in a way which made it compelling. I do feel conflicted though about leaking top secret information. On one hand I can understand the why but on the other hand it is a betrayal. But, I suppose those who misuse power don't deserve loyalty.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Very interesting book about Daniel Ellsberg, a man who worked at a top secret job that gave him access to classified documents which he copied and leaked to newspapers across America. He realized the American people were not being told the truth about what was really going on. While visiting Vietnam, he saw the horror and devastation the Vietnamese people were experiencing and realized the injustice of the war.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Taryn Pierson

    I realize Steve Sheinkin’s books are for kids, but I totally, 100% don’t care. Non-fiction? More like non-stop thrill ride. I love how he writes about history as if it’s urgent. Increasingly, I’m becoming aware that it is indeed urgent for average Americans to understand what’s happened in the past, so we can avoid living in a Groundhog Day-type loop of bad political and humanitarian decisions in our present. With Most Dangerous, Sheinkin turns his attention to the Vietnam War: what started it, a I realize Steve Sheinkin’s books are for kids, but I totally, 100% don’t care. Non-fiction? More like non-stop thrill ride. I love how he writes about history as if it’s urgent. Increasingly, I’m becoming aware that it is indeed urgent for average Americans to understand what’s happened in the past, so we can avoid living in a Groundhog Day-type loop of bad political and humanitarian decisions in our present. With Most Dangerous, Sheinkin turns his attention to the Vietnam War: what started it, and most interestingly, what eventually ended it. A Washington insider named Daniel Ellsberg chose to leak a massive top-secret document to expose years upon years of lies and deception by American presidents. Those in power labeled him a traitor and put him on trial. Looking back now, a strong argument could be made that he was a hero. I especially enjoyed how, in the afterword, Sheinkin connects the dots from Ellsberg’s decision to a much more recent one, specifically the case of Edward Snowden, who exposed the NSA’s spying on law-abiding citizens. Physically, at least, Snowden’s task was very different from Ellsberg’s thanks to advances in technology since the 1960s. Ellsberg labored for weeks on a Xerox machine to make copies of the thousand-page document, and it had to be transported in suitcases. Logistically, a bit more complicated than saving everything to a flash drive the size of a baby carrot and sticking it in your pocket. Having never studied the Vietnam War in school before, it was gratifying to fill in that particular hole in my education. For example, I had NO IDEA how absolutely terrible a person Richard Nixon was. I knew he was the only president to ever resign, and I figured whatever he did must have been bad for him to do that, but good Lord, that guy was awful. More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com

  15. 4 out of 5

    Meg Zuehl

    I'm just going to admit this pretty embarrassing fact. I am a history major, I teach US history, and I have never even heard of half the details covered in this book. The amount of governmental corruption that surrounded the Vietnam War is unbelievable. So is the fact that the corruption of the Vietnam War and Watergate is interconnected. This book reads like a blockbuster and I really hope it is tuned into a movie. The American public should know about this. Perhaps the generation that was aliv I'm just going to admit this pretty embarrassing fact. I am a history major, I teach US history, and I have never even heard of half the details covered in this book. The amount of governmental corruption that surrounded the Vietnam War is unbelievable. So is the fact that the corruption of the Vietnam War and Watergate is interconnected. This book reads like a blockbuster and I really hope it is tuned into a movie. The American public should know about this. Perhaps the generation that was alive during the release of the Pentagon Papers knows these details, but generations since do not cover this in school. Of all Sheinkin's books, this is probably my favorite. The connections between Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden are timely and evoke interesting questions about the role of government and the facade of privacy via the Fourth Amendment. This book completely changed my view of government.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Quinn

    Another excellent YA book by Steve Sheinkin that's suitable for all readers. ("Bomb" is the other excellent Sheinkin book. "The Port Chicago 50" is the only other Sheinkin book I've read and it's good but not up to the level of "Most Dangerous" or "Bomb.") Most Dangerous is a great primer on how America got involved in Vietnam, what kept it there and why it eventually left. Daniel Ellsburg is the centerpiece but there's sufficient attention to the LBJ and Nixon presidencies to provide a wider foc Another excellent YA book by Steve Sheinkin that's suitable for all readers. ("Bomb" is the other excellent Sheinkin book. "The Port Chicago 50" is the only other Sheinkin book I've read and it's good but not up to the level of "Most Dangerous" or "Bomb.") Most Dangerous is a great primer on how America got involved in Vietnam, what kept it there and why it eventually left. Daniel Ellsburg is the centerpiece but there's sufficient attention to the LBJ and Nixon presidencies to provide a wider focus. Besides the background on the Vietnam war Sheinkin tells the stories of the Pentagon Papers and Nixon's Plumbers (led by the colorful G. Gordon Libby and ex-CIA agent Howard Hunt) along with a very brief glimpse of the Watergate scandal. As a jumping off point Most Dangerous is a great way to decide if you're interested enough in the Vietnam story to decide if you want to delve deeper into the subject. The bibliography is extensive so you can read the material with confidence. The chapters are very short and the material is never overwhelming but it's also not aimed too low. Hopefully Sheinkin will turn his attention to another grand subject.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    "Most Dangerous" was my choice for our book group to read. I was tentative about choosing it because it is classified as a Young Adult book. This is somewhat of an issue because the writing style is simpler than what you would expect in an adult non-fiction, but Sheinkin does an excellent job of telling the very complex story in a comprehensible manner, with several pages of end notes and sources. For students, this is an excellent example of research. For many of us, the names in the book may be "Most Dangerous" was my choice for our book group to read. I was tentative about choosing it because it is classified as a Young Adult book. This is somewhat of an issue because the writing style is simpler than what you would expect in an adult non-fiction, but Sheinkin does an excellent job of telling the very complex story in a comprehensible manner, with several pages of end notes and sources. For students, this is an excellent example of research. For many of us, the names in the book may be familiar--Henry Kissinger, Daniel Ellsberg, Robert McNamara, and General Westmoreland--but their roles in one of the most tumultuous times in American history are often forgotten. I was in high school and college when the events covered in the book occurred. I was fairly well aware of current events at the time, but many aspects of this story were new to me. Sheinkin pieces together the history of our actions in Vietnam and the rising discontent with the war. The infamous Plumbers unit that worked out of the White House for Nixon make an appearance. Daniel Ellsberg's tortured journey from dedicated Department of Defense analyst to leaker of the Pentagon Papers is woven through the history of the time, giving us an understanding of how one of the most important court cases concerning freedom of the press developed. Although the story took place almost fifty years ago, it is still highly relevant. Sheinkin ends the book with a chapter on Edward Snowden and current concerns about government secrecy. This is a riveting story, thoroughly researched and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    This made me so angry. And terribly discouraged. And proud. And hopeful. The idea that the people we elected to represent us, out of pure stubbornness, would put so many lives in danger makes me want to shake my fist at the sky. But the idea that one person, out of pure stubbornness, could make such a huge difference in the lives of people he'd never met makes me want to stand up and cheer for humanity. I struggled with the audiobook format, because there was just so much I didn't have a good fra This made me so angry. And terribly discouraged. And proud. And hopeful. The idea that the people we elected to represent us, out of pure stubbornness, would put so many lives in danger makes me want to shake my fist at the sky. But the idea that one person, out of pure stubbornness, could make such a huge difference in the lives of people he'd never met makes me want to stand up and cheer for humanity. I struggled with the audiobook format, because there was just so much I didn't have a good frame of reference to understand. The middle section focusing on Ellsberg's work to bring the Pentagon Papers to the press was easy to follow, but the beginning and end that details all of the political maneuvering between leaders of countries far away, with different motivations, pulling invisible strings, that was hard for me to absorb. I can't find the quote, but Ellsberg says something about how the United States is not run by politicians, it is run by the people. And it reminded me of Barack Obama's speech at the 2016 DNC, when he said that "we don't look to be ruled...That’s our birthright -- the capacity to shape our own destiny." Sometimes it's easy to feel helpless and insignificant, until you realize you're not.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Dix

    I am equal parts horrified at how little I know about the Pentagon Papers and the Vietnam War and deeply depressed that our government is so duplicitous. Steve Sheinkin delivers again though I would not put this in the hands of middle school students...the history is simply too confusing and without a better sense of modern political history and the American 60s, they will be lost. Heck, I was lost most of the time. It reads like an espionage thriller. Sadly the "who done it" was the combination I am equal parts horrified at how little I know about the Pentagon Papers and the Vietnam War and deeply depressed that our government is so duplicitous. Steve Sheinkin delivers again though I would not put this in the hands of middle school students...the history is simply too confusing and without a better sense of modern political history and the American 60s, they will be lost. Heck, I was lost most of the time. It reads like an espionage thriller. Sadly the "who done it" was the combination of four presidencies, secret coups and homeland spying. One of my favorite audiobook readers lent his voice for this novel. Ray Porter absolutely makes this a story you can't stop listening to.

  20. 5 out of 5

    bjneary

    I read this Nonfiction Book Award Winner as part of the 2016 Hub Challenge. I have read and loved all Sheinkin's nonfiction books and Most Dangerous does not disappoint!!! Sheinkin's thrilling narrative and thorough research brought the Vietnam War and it's atrocities alive. The government's role was riveting and heinous. Daniel Ellsberg was a dedicated government employee who was passionate in everything he did and Sheinkin's portrayal was moving and convincing. I could not stop turning the pag I read this Nonfiction Book Award Winner as part of the 2016 Hub Challenge. I have read and loved all Sheinkin's nonfiction books and Most Dangerous does not disappoint!!! Sheinkin's thrilling narrative and thorough research brought the Vietnam War and it's atrocities alive. The government's role was riveting and heinous. Daniel Ellsberg was a dedicated government employee who was passionate in everything he did and Sheinkin's portrayal was moving and convincing. I could not stop turning the pages and it is Sheinkin's engrossing narrative that sucked me in and kept me glued to the final page! I recommend Teachers and students of American history read this- as well as adults and teens. Highly recommended!!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Kahn

    Sheinkin did it again - took a complicated segment of American history and parsed it to make it easily accessible to teen readers yet nearly unbearably suspenseful. My dad was a political junkie and all over this stuff when I was growing up so our dinner times consisted of the six of us children and my mom eating and listening quietly to him recap the events of the day. The audio performance was well-paced and the narrator did a great job of intoning the characteristics of the speech patterns of Sheinkin did it again - took a complicated segment of American history and parsed it to make it easily accessible to teen readers yet nearly unbearably suspenseful. My dad was a political junkie and all over this stuff when I was growing up so our dinner times consisted of the six of us children and my mom eating and listening quietly to him recap the events of the day. The audio performance was well-paced and the narrator did a great job of intoning the characteristics of the speech patterns of many of the players. I need to grab the book to go over the photos but this is a must-have for school and public libraries.

  22. 5 out of 5

    orangerful

    Well, that was an eerie book to read right now. I can't decide if it was encouraging or depressing. Maybe a bit of both. This is an important book just because it is a messy part of U.S. history that is not regularly discussed in the classroom. I was embarrassed by how little I knew about the Vietnam war, Nixon's White House, and Daniel Ellsberg so I am really glad I picked up this book. Definitely a good title to get into the hands of teens, very relevant. It would be fantastic for a book discus Well, that was an eerie book to read right now. I can't decide if it was encouraging or depressing. Maybe a bit of both. This is an important book just because it is a messy part of U.S. history that is not regularly discussed in the classroom. I was embarrassed by how little I knew about the Vietnam war, Nixon's White House, and Daniel Ellsberg so I am really glad I picked up this book. Definitely a good title to get into the hands of teens, very relevant. It would be fantastic for a book discussion too!

  23. 5 out of 5

    ElizaLu

    4.5 stars. This book was GREAT, and it's the book I find myself telling everyone about. It is the narrative nonfiction tale of Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers. The story covers the history of the Vietnam War, the activities of numerous presidential administrations with respect to information and misinformation provided to the public, the leak of the papers, all the way up to the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation. Meant for a young audience, it reads like a novel-- 4.5 stars. This book was GREAT, and it's the book I find myself telling everyone about. It is the narrative nonfiction tale of Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers. The story covers the history of the Vietnam War, the activities of numerous presidential administrations with respect to information and misinformation provided to the public, the leak of the papers, all the way up to the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation. Meant for a young audience, it reads like a novel--thoroughly engaging the entire time--and its topics and themes continue to feel timely. I may pair it with a read of "All the President's Men" next, to fill in the end of this story and pick up where it leaves off.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I have a better understanding about the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal now. My dad, a Vietnam veteran, didn’t like to talk about the war. My uncles were kind of the same way. I don’t blame them. I’m glad books like this exist, so the story can be told that honors those impacted by such a terrible event. While I understand the similarities to the Snowden situation, I don’t think it’s the same. I don’t think we should compare his secrets to the tragedy of the many many lives lost in the war I have a better understanding about the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal now. My dad, a Vietnam veteran, didn’t like to talk about the war. My uncles were kind of the same way. I don’t blame them. I’m glad books like this exist, so the story can be told that honors those impacted by such a terrible event. While I understand the similarities to the Snowden situation, I don’t think it’s the same. I don’t think we should compare his secrets to the tragedy of the many many lives lost in the war.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I would never have picked this book up on my own, but it was chosen for my bookclub this month. I saw the topic and cringed a bit as I try to avoid politics as much as possible. However, I do enjoy history (if not too in depth) and, admittedly, I know little about the facts around the Vietnam War. In the end, I am very happy to have read this book. It was a very engaging read. I feel a bit more knowledgable about the Vietnam War and Watergate. However, parts of this book made me sick. The reason I would never have picked this book up on my own, but it was chosen for my bookclub this month. I saw the topic and cringed a bit as I try to avoid politics as much as possible. However, I do enjoy history (if not too in depth) and, admittedly, I know little about the facts around the Vietnam War. In the end, I am very happy to have read this book. It was a very engaging read. I feel a bit more knowledgable about the Vietnam War and Watergate. However, parts of this book made me sick. The reason this book was written was the exact reason that I avoid politics. I have long held the belief that "we the people" rarely know what is actually going on. I take anything a politician says, on either side of the party line, with a grain of salt. It is horribly sad how selfish people can be in order to gain power and fame. I can't imagine being the mother to one of those poor boys drafted to go to Vietnam to die or to later suffer ill effects of being in the war.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Excellent and thought-provoking. Makes me regret not paying better attention during my US Government AP class in high school.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    Steve Sheinkin's body of writing continues to grow and amaze. He has done it again writing a book that, like "Bomb," should be mandatory reading in our schools. The back story of Daniel Ellsberg and his conversion from military hawk to "peacenik" and alleged "traitor" to our country is absolutely fascinating and told by Sheinkin with great writing and a strong sense of urgency. To think that Mr. Ellsberg's action in releasing or "leaking" the Pentagon Papers would aid in ending the bloody confli Steve Sheinkin's body of writing continues to grow and amaze. He has done it again writing a book that, like "Bomb," should be mandatory reading in our schools. The back story of Daniel Ellsberg and his conversion from military hawk to "peacenik" and alleged "traitor" to our country is absolutely fascinating and told by Sheinkin with great writing and a strong sense of urgency. To think that Mr. Ellsberg's action in releasing or "leaking" the Pentagon Papers would aid in ending the bloody conflict known as the Vietnam War and, inadvertently, bring down the Nixon Administration is incredible. I was shocked to read how Nixon and, especially Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson, used and abused their powers and lied to the American public to draw us into one of the bloodiest and most costly military engagements we as a country have ever been involved in reads like a Shakespearen or Biblical tragedy of epic proportion. The story about how then candidate Richard Nixon derailed the Paris Peace Talks days before the 1968 Presidential elections so he could win and be elected was and is deeply, deeply disturbing. What is further disturbing was to learn that President Johnson knew about it, accused Nixon of treason to his Cabinet and inner circle, but no one, including Johnson, did a damned thing about it. Incredible! Had the Paris Peace talks resulted in a lasting peace in 1968, which they were close to doing, tens of thousands of young American men's lives would have been spared and at least a million Vietnamese men, women and children's live would likewise have been spared. Appalling, absolutely appalling and dishonorable behavior by those who held the highest and most powerful office in the world. The term "war criminals" comes to mind. Never again can we be expected to hold "the high moral ground." Absolutely appalling, disgusting and shocking behaviors by allegedly "great" men. To think I admired both President Johnson and, to some extent, Nixon; albeit for different reasons with respect to the latter President. I lived through and "came of age" in the late Sixties and early Seventies and proudly had a family member go to Vietnam -- Uncle Tim Kenney who returned to America only to be spat upon for doing that which he was drafted to do -- and recall this period of time well but, until reading this book, never could connect the dots. The only true "heroes" in this book were Daniel Ellsberg, his wife and children who stood by his side, Ellsberg's friends who likewise stood by his side and even went to prison to protect him and, to some extent, the Press for standing their ground and arguing First Amendment protections permitted publication of such top secret material. Henry David Thoreau wrote in his essay "Civil Disobedience" it is every citizen's duty in a self-governed nation to do that which is ethically and morally right, including, occasionally, calling out our government's misconduct in matters of domestic and international policy. Never again will I look at the office of the President with naive eyes and think the man or woman in office is always doing what is right without thinking of this book, Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers, Vietnam, Johnson, Nixon and our current generation's Ellsberg, Edward Snowden. We must have a vigorous and Free Press and be forever vigilant of our rights or we will assuredly lose them. DO read this book! Better yet, give a copy to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and children of friends for the holidays. The future of our great but oft-troubled nation, depends upon an informed, active and, like the subject of this book, brave citizenry.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    Steven Sheinkin is one of my favorite history writers for young readers. His narrative style creates characters with distinct voices along with brilliant craft at revealing plot elements that resemble a thriller. No dry history facts here, folks. This guy knows how to take the pertinent information in history and pull the reader into the story. Like "Bomb," this is more difficult to read than your ordinary elementary-book-fare but students in my Newbery book club that have read it really like it Steven Sheinkin is one of my favorite history writers for young readers. His narrative style creates characters with distinct voices along with brilliant craft at revealing plot elements that resemble a thriller. No dry history facts here, folks. This guy knows how to take the pertinent information in history and pull the reader into the story. Like "Bomb," this is more difficult to read than your ordinary elementary-book-fare but students in my Newbery book club that have read it really like it. Four presidents didn't want to be the first person in history to lose a war and their resulting poor decisions were rooted in this fear. Daniel Ellsberg was an analyst for Rand Corporation, a think tank that studied international crises and helped government policymakers with decisions. He was extremely bright and brought on staff at the Pentagon to work for Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, in the 60s helping with the conflict in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh wanted to unite Vietnam but because he was Communist the United States backed the unpopular non-communist South Vietnam leader. War broke out on Ellsberg's first day on the job. Sheinkin shows from the get-go all the errors made by leaders in the U.S. government as they went to war with Vietnam. Ellsberg was supportive of the government and believed in the war until it became obvious over twenty-three years that there was never a plan to win the war or end it but just continue to sacrifice lives so that the president in power could win the next election. Ellsberg decision to exercise civil disobedience was extremely difficult and Sheinkin shows his struggle with deciding if the people of the United States had a right to know about cover-ups or if he should maintain secrecy for the sake of national security. Ellsberg changed from thinking the Vietnam war was "noble" to one that was wrong from the start as he observed president-after-president lying to the people. Ellsberg understood that he could not challenge policies in public - it was the code of an insider. Most leaders surround themselves with people that agree with them. He knew disagreeing publicly was not done and feared the consequences of taking action against the government. He knew he'd end up in jail. This made me think of the book, "Team of Rivals," and Abraham Lincoln's unusual cabinet where he let those close to him in government publicly disagree with him. Wouldn't it be awesome if Sheinkin wrote a book for young readers on Abe? The second part of the story shows the Watergate scandal and comedy of errors that happened as a result of Nixon's actions. Sheinkin's novels are always sprinkled with tidbits I didn't know. Did you know they dropped three times the amount of bombs on Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam than they did in World War II? And that an estimated 2 million people died? Sheinkin doesn't give answers but asks important questions such as when is a person justified in leaking classified government information to expose wrongdoing? He ties it in with the more recent leak by Edward Snowden on the United States national security surveillance. He doesn't give his opinion, but lets the reader decide. The questions have no easy answers. A great nonfiction book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Quinn's Book Nook

    I always find it so incredibly difficult to review a non-fiction book, but I’m going to try anyway with Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin. Basically, I LOVED Most Dangerous! I admit that I am a total fan girl of all of Steve Sheinkin’s non-fiction books. I’ve read The Notorious Benedict Arnold, Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon , The Port Chicago 50 , and Lincoln’s Grave Robbers , and I have loved eac I always find it so incredibly difficult to review a non-fiction book, but I’m going to try anyway with Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin. Basically, I LOVED Most Dangerous! I admit that I am a total fan girl of all of Steve Sheinkin’s non-fiction books. I’ve read The Notorious Benedict Arnold, Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon , The Port Chicago 50 , and Lincoln’s Grave Robbers , and I have loved each and every one. But I was a little nervous to read Most Dangerous, because it’s about The Vietnam War, a topic in history that has never really interested me all that much. But seriously, I shouldn’t have worried, because Steve Sheinkin’s books always amaze me. Most Dangerous takes us on a journey to help explain how Daniel Ellberg made the decision to release top secret documents (The Pentagon Papers) to the press. It’s really a fascinating story. Daniel Ellsberg took a long time to finally decide that the American people had a right to know all the details about the Vietnam War. Even as someone who knows next to nothing about the Vietnam War, Sheinkin does such a wonderful job of explaining it. I couldn’t put this book down. I came away thinking that Daniel Ellsberg was a very brave man. I can’t imagine having to make that decision, knowing that he would probably be arrested. He did it because he thought it was the right thing to do. And regardless of whether or not you agree with him, I think you have to admire his courage. I will read anything Steve Sheinkin writes. Like I said, total fan girl here!This review was originally posted on Quinn's Book Nook

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

    Most Dangerous is another knockout history thriller from Sheinkin. Daniel Ellsberg's is a long time Washington insider who leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed the pattern of lies behind the Vietnam War. Ellsberg's story can seem on dull on the surface: he is a workaholic academic and a politic analyst, who shows his passion and patriotism though writing government reports. I mean dude starts off at a think tank in 60's... he seems more Bond side character then Bond himself. But Sheinkin makes Most Dangerous is another knockout history thriller from Sheinkin. Daniel Ellsberg's is a long time Washington insider who leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed the pattern of lies behind the Vietnam War. Ellsberg's story can seem on dull on the surface: he is a workaholic academic and a politic analyst, who shows his passion and patriotism though writing government reports. I mean dude starts off at a think tank in 60's... he seems more Bond side character then Bond himself. But Sheinkin makes Ellsberg's story interesting by focusing on the experiences changed his personal convictions.This is particularly appropriate read for the youth I serve in Capitol Hill DC : many of their families are part of the political machine and they too might be poised for a lifetime on the inside. Though I think his transformation is important for any zealous teens. Sheinkin continues to do what I've liked about his other books. First he uses short chapters broken up into even shorter sub sections. He leads with pithy quotes and uses short sentences. But also, provides great summaries of complex ideas and facts about global politics, the law and history. Ellsberg's narrative is also punctuated with the story of Vietnam POWs that help break it up. Thus, his writing is varied and this makes for good pacing. I would have liked to see a bit about the military industrial complex since it really fueled so much in the Cold War era - and even more so today. ( I understand how it might have been off topic for this book.) It also felt forced when Ellsberg would remember an inspirational quote. I, like this potential audience, I have not lived through this era of intense change in trust in government. I walked away from this book thinking of that old adage: things are so different now but yet still the same. As Sheinkin's epilogue makes clear so much about information sharing and the press, have changed but we are still sorting out the balance between national security, privacy and public transparency.

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