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

Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59643-952-8
Sheinkin (The Port Chicago 50) has done again what he does so well: condense mountains of research into a concise, accessible, and riveting account of history. This time he focuses on the turbulent Vietnam War era, using as his lens Daniel Ellsberg, the leaker of the Pentagon Papers. Divided into three sections, the book’s short chapters detail Ellsberg’s transformation from U.S. Marine, government analyst, and “cold warrior” to antiwar activist and whistle-blower. Initial pages list nearly 100 characters central to the Ellsberg-Vietnam story, including politicians, reporters, military personnel, and Vietnamese officials. Each appears chronologically in the expansive narrative, which also traces how several U.S. presidents and their often-secretive policies led to the prolonged conflict in Southeast Asia. Chapters dealing with Ellsberg’s clandestine leak of a top-secret government study of the war, as well as the Nixon White House’s response, read like the stuff of spy novels and will keep readers racing forward. On the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of Saigon, the book’s themes still resonate, as the epilogue about whistle-blower Edward Snowden points out. Ages 10–14. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/13/2015
Release date: 09/22/2015
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