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

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

5.0 4
by Steve Sheinkin
 

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This captivating nonfiction investigation of the Pentagon Papers has captured widespread critical acclaim, including features in The Washington Post and on NPR, selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist, and selection as winner of the 2016 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award.

From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port

Overview

This captivating nonfiction investigation of the Pentagon Papers has captured widespread critical acclaim, including features in The Washington Post and on NPR, selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist, and selection as winner of the 2016 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award.

From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port Chicago 50 and Newbery Honor Book Bomb comes a tense, narrative nonfiction account of what the Times deemed "the greatest story of the century": how whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose years of government lies during the Nixon / Cold War era.

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 files had been commissioned 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 politicians claiming to represent their interests. The investigation that resulted--as well as the attempted government coverups and vilification of the whistleblower--has timely relevance to Edward Snowden's more recent conspiracy leaks.

A provocative and political book that interrogates the meanings of patriotism, freedom, and integrity, Most Dangerous further establishes Steve Sheinkin as a leader in children's nonfiction.

This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Greg Grandin
…gripping…Sheinkin's book is a remarkably effective synthesis not just of Ellsberg's life but of America's long history in Vietnam. The author has a perfect ear for what might hold the attention of young readers, while at the same time gently educating them about war and governance. Most Dangerous balances drama, human interest…and analysis…Most Dangerous is also a civics lesson, showing the debates within newsrooms about whether editors had the right to publish Ellsberg's leaked information…and concluding with an epilogue on how the Ellsberg case relates to the more recent leaks by Edward Snowden. Young people in the United States are growing up in a vastly changed world, one where endless war and all-pervasive surveillance is a matter of course. Most Dangerous will help them understand how it has become so.
Publishers Weekly
★ 07/13/2015
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.)
From the Publisher

Finalist for the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature
A National Book Award Finalist
Selected for the 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People List

“Lively, detailed prose rooted in a tremendous amount of research, fully documented. . . Easily the best study of the Vietnam War available for teen readers.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Sheinkin has done again what he does so well: condense mountains of research into a concise, accessible, and riveting account of history. . . [This book] will keep readers racing forward.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Powerful and thought-provoking.” —Booklist, starred review

“Fast-paced and fascinating. . . backed up by meticulous research.” —VOYA, starred review

"Thoroughly researched, thoughtfully produced, and beautifully written . . . a timely and extraordinary addition to every library." —School & Library Journal, starred review

"Immediate and compelling . . . Here, [Sheinkin] has outdone even himself." —Horn Book, starred review

"A thrilling ride."—BCCB, starred review

"Sheinkin's most compelling one yet." —The Washington Post

"Young people in the United States are growing up in a vastly changed world, one where endless war and all-pervasive surveillance is a matter of course. 'Most Dangerous' will help them understand how it has become so."—The New York Times Book Review

VOYA, August 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 3) - Katherine Noone
This is a detailed but fast-paced and fascinating narrative. The early 1970s come to life as Sheinkin splices war, politics, and journalism in what could be an international thriller—but it is true, backed up by meticulous research and the documentary evidence now known as the Pentagon Papers. Teens will find a hero in Daniel Ellsberg, former Marine lieutenant turned State Department employee who wrestles with his belief that the Vietnam War was worth its horrendous cost as he confronts persistent deception by four American presidents. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, knowing the war was unwinnable, ordered up the Pentagon Papers so future researchers could understand the decisions. Drama intensifies when Ellsberg gives xeroxed copies of McNamara’s report to the N.Y. Times and Washington Post, and Nixon aides set out to destroy him. Depressing as the political chicanery is, teens may cheer as newspaper executives weigh the costs and publish anyhow, rolling out sections of the report in one city after another as court injunctions follow. Readers will find human interest in Ellsberg’s up and down courtship of Patricia Marx, a journalist who marries him and supports his crusade. There is comedy in the woeful failures of the White House “plumbers,” whose Keystone-Cops-like attempt to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist was a mere prelude to Watergate and prison terms. The past is clear. The present is another matter. In his epilogue, the award-winning Sheinkin summarizes the Edward Snowden situation and leaves readers to wrestle with the question: “How much secrecy is too much?” Reviewer: Katherine Noone; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
★ 09/01/2015
Gr 7 Up—In this thoroughly researched, thoughtfully produced, and beautifully written book, Sheinkin delves into the life of Daniel Ellsberg, former Pentagon consultant and a self-described "cold warrior," who gradually made an about-face with regard to America's presence in Vietnam. Ellsberg famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, a lengthy document written by military insiders about the Vietnam War, to various members of the press in 1971. He was quickly labeled an enemy of the state and a traitor to his country, aka the most dangerous man in America. With access to many of the key players in this real-life drama, as well as mountains of source material, Sheinkin builds a narrative that is at once accessible and suspenseful, with revelations and details coming at just the right moments. In Sheinkin's careful hands, Ellsberg and others, including Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and Robert McNamara, are fully realized characters with strengths, flaws, and motivations that grow ever more clear as the story unfolds. Direct quotes, primary source documents, and archival photographs are peppered throughout, supplementing and complementing the text. Meticulous source notes indicate the level of research and time that the author has put into this particular work. With the news filled with stories about Edward Snowden and the NSA, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and privacy rights and government overreach, this brilliant work about an extraordinary whistle-blower taking a stand should be on everyone's reading list. VERDICT A timely and extraordinary addition to every library.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-06-23
Following his award-winning World War II-era volumes Bomb (2012) and The Port Chicago 50 (2014), Sheinkin tells the sweeping saga of the Vietnam War and the man who blew the whistle on the government's "secret war."From 1964 to 1971, Daniel Ellsberg went from nerdy analyst for the Rand Corp. to "the most dangerous man in America." Initially a supporter of Cold War politics and the Vietnam War, he became disenchanted with the war and the lies presidents told to cover up the United States' deepening involvement in the war. He helped to amass the Pentagon Papers—"seven thousand pages of documentary evidence of lying, by four presidents and their administrations over twenty-three years"—and then leaked them to the press, fueling public dissatisfaction with American foreign policy. Sheinkin ably juggles the complex war narrative with Ellsberg's personal story, pointing out the deceits of presidents and tracing Ellsberg's rise to action. It's a challenging read but necessarily so given the scope of the study. As always, Sheinkin knows how to put the "story" in history with lively, detailed prose rooted in a tremendous amount of research, fully documented. An epilogue demonstrates how history repeats itself in the form of Edward Snowden.Easily the best study of the Vietnam War available for teen readers. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596439528
Publisher:
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
09/22/2015
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
66,439
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile:
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Night in the Gulf of Tonkin was morning on the east coast of the United States. Daniel Ellsberg parked his white Triumph Spitfire convertible in the sprawling parking lot of the Pentagon. He got out of his car and joined the streams of men and women walking toward the massive five-sided building. This was the first day of his new job.
 Ellsberg climbed the stairs to the third floor and walked down the hall to John McNaughton’s office. It was a large suite with windows looking out across the Potomac River to the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome. McNaughton’s secretary kept watch from a desk just outside the boss’s private room. Other assistants sat in cubicles. Ellsberg entered his tiny workspace—“a cubbyhole,” he called it—barely big enough for a desk and chair, a bookcase, and two safes for classified files. There was a little window with a view of Washington. He sat down and began reading through a pile of papers.
 He did not have long to wait for the crisis his boss had promised. “My very first day on the job,” he later said, “all hell broke loose.”

Meet the Author

Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, was a National Book Award finalist and received the 2014 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery, won both the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the YALSA award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World's Most Dangerous Weapon was a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War was a National Book Award finalist, a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award winner, and a Boston Globe/Horn Book Nonfiction Award winner. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children.

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Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
toniFMAMTC More than 1 year ago
I don’t usually get into nonfiction this much, but this was beyond interesting. Somehow I never knew about most of it. I felt amazed actually to be so clueless about a part of fairly recent American history. Some parts were really exciting like when he was on the run and getting parts of the classified documents printed. I just wonder if I would have been more into History when I was in school if I would have had to read something like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing history read at a level that will hold teen interest along with adults. This is an important time in history to read about. It is easy to see connections to today. This is a must read and should be discussed in classrooms across the country.b
YoungMensanBookParade More than 1 year ago
This book is the living example of taking something we already kind of know about, and skewering it mind-boggling truth and ready-made suspense. The plot is history-based, so there's no thinking you're getting emotional over a made-up story. The struggles that Daniel Ellsberg (the main character) goes through are also realistic, changing your view of the Vietnam War Era forever. Daniel Ellsberg works for the government throughout the Cold War, and takes the position of a "Cold War Boy", someone who grew up on the American side of the Cold War, and liked it. Over time, the Cold War expands to include a new war, The Vietnam War, the war meant to heroically defend our way of life before it could be destroyed by Communists. Meanwhile, Ellsberg is exposed to the horrors of the Vietnam War through his "insider" government job, the perfect vantage point. He shifts from "insider" to "outsider", and from a confidential man to being targeted by the government for exposing the failures of the presidents. This exposure would be known as The Pentagon Papers, the first big leakage of Top Secret U.S. government information, ever. In other words, it is just as good as any of your favorite books with a theme of rebellion, but as a real life tale with real life consequences, too. Remember as you read that the outcome detailed in this book will make a lasting mark on the world you live in, because Daniel Ellsberg really was one "the most dangerous man in America" Jose C, age 14, San Francisco Regional Mensa
richRP More than 1 year ago
I have read the book and just love it could not stop read it