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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Daniel Ellsberg came to international attention in 1969 when he smuggled out the Pentagon Papers, an act that flung open the gates of secrecy that surrounded American conduct and policy in Vietnam, and changed United States history. Now he tells the whole exciting story in this impassioned memoir.
In the 1960s, ex-Marine Ellsberg was a high-level government adviser, spending considerable time in Vietnam. Upon his return Stateside, he worked for the Rand Corporation, a private think tank with close ties to the Pentagon. There, he took part in the creation of a comprehensive history of the Vietnam conflict for former defense secretary Robert McNamara. After reading the completed 7,000-page document -- which became known as the Pentagon Papers -- Ellsberg's disillusionment with U.S. policies turned to outrage. He discovered that, from the start of U.S. military involvement in Indochina in the 1950s, our government had systematically misled the public about its actions and objectives. With the Vietnam War still going strong under the Nixon administration -- despite official statements that it was winding down -- Ellsberg felt compelled to go public with this top-secret history of government duplicity.
At considerable personal risk to himself and his family, Ellsberg made the Pentagon Papers available to the media, and they were published in their entirety by The New York Times. The reverberations were titanic. Ellsberg was arrested and put on trial. At the same time, President Nixon's paranoia grew, resulting in illegal actions that led to his political fall from grace.
Whether he was crawling on his belly in the rice paddies of Vietnam's Plain of Reeds or fleeing the FBI in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ellsberg's actions demonstrated that he was a man of conscience. This memoir should inspire the reader's sense of civic duty. It raises serious questions about our responsibilities, what it is we owe our government and our community, and asks whether there is a path of integrity that can be taken to preserve both. Dana Isaacson