Daily Archives: June 23, 2015

Coming Soon: Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

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 at the Watergate, 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 were 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 finds 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.



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