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Saturday, September 5
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
My rating: ★★★★★
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Date of publication: September 22, 2015
Age: Grades 6 and up
Themes: Vietnam War, treason, information, secrecy, journalism,
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 chronicled 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 Papers were leaked by one man, whom Henry Kissinger would come to call "the most dangerous man in America."
Sheinkin is a nonfiction-writing genius. He turns history into the riveting, drama-ridden story that it is. I loved Bomb and this is another awesome book. Of course, I may be biased, because this is what I studied for my undergraduate...but Sheinkin picks the really controversial periods in American history. He knows how to get the reader to think and ask questions.
As for this book in particular, I can guess that its reception might still be a bit mixed, since this controversial era is still in the minds of many individuals today. Sheinkin really doesn't try to fluff the story at all; it is a reflection of the true failure America had in Vietnam. And there's a lot that goes into the failure. He kept the facts and storyline well organized. Some pictures from the time are dotted throughout to help the story in a constructive way. He also ties it in to the recent drama with Edward Snowden, making the book relevant to readers today.
My only qualm might be the targeted audience from the publisher. They say it's good for kids as young as ten, but the story is gruesome (including some of the pictures). Vietnam was not a pretty time and Sheinkin doesn't shirk from that. Will the younger kids really be able to appreciate the controversy? Hard to say. Also, if you're concerned, Sheinkin doesn't exactly shy away from the soldier's (or Nixon's, for that matter) crass language.
Still, I highly recommend it. Especially if you enjoyed his other books.
Pre-order on on Amazon
Or put a hold on it at your library
Received an ARC from the publisher