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Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the…

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (vuoden 2015 painos)

– tekijä: Steve Sheinkin

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
3523655,669 (4.52)14
"The story of Daniel Ellsberg and his decision to steal and publish secret documents about America's involvement in the Vietnam War"--
Teoksen nimi:Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Kirjailijat:Steve Sheinkin
Info:Roaring Brook Press, Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:unread, history, kindle

Teoksen tarkat tiedot

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)) (tekijä: Steve Sheinkin)


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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 36) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I may have finally found the YA literature for me - non-fiction! This book is catalogued in my library under adult non-fiction, for some reason (most branches don't have a teen non-fiction section but all of Sheinkin's books are shelved in children's except this one...). While I do love reading about history, there's a lot of it that is boring/a slog to get through when written for adults. This book was serious, informative, and easy to read. I already have so much trouble remembering everyone's name when I'm reading history books, I don't also need to get lost in long sentences and pause to look up words.

And don't think that because this book is written for youth that it's going to shy away from ugly truths about war and politics. It doesn't. One scene in particular describes soldiers hosing off dead, dismembered bodies of North Vietnamese soldiers in a trailer, leaving them there for the top brass to see how well their troops have been killing. I was enthralled by the descriptions of the terrible decision-making that happened by the American government throughout the war - so many high-ups knew that this war was a bad idea, and there were no good options in front of them: pull out, abandoning South Vietnam and losing the war; continue providing minimal support, wasting resources and gaining no ground; escalate the conflict and hope to win through attrition, even though this didn't have a great outlook either, considering that North Vietnam had the advantage through numbers, knowledge of the country, and belief that they would win. Of course the US went with the latter, because Johnson didn't want to be the first US president to lose a war. Nixon said the same thing. They both made bad decisions in order to make sure nothing big happened in Vietnam before the next election. Can you imagine, looking back on the brutal mess that was the Vietnam war, how many people died and how many lives ruined, and justify it because you didn't want to be the first president to lose a war?? Especially since there were advisers who were telling you that the future of this conflict looked bleak, you knew that nothing good would come of this...but I'll just pass it on to the next guy, at least it won't be me who lost the war.

I liked reading about Ellsberg's political shift from Cold Warrior to anti-war hero/traitor (depending on who you ask). He went to Vietnam and spoke to the South Vietnamese about the war, learning that they didn't care who won, they just wanted the war to be over. Even if "their side" lost, they would be happy just to know that the fighting was over. That was Ellsberg's turning point. How could the US possibly still justify this conflict, the killing and dying, when the American people were souring on it and the South Vietnamese people just wanted it to end?

And Nixon just fucked everything up, secretly bombing Cambodia and illegally bugging everyone and being petty about traitors exposing government secrets and being hailed as heroes, when, as Ellsberg kept saying, the American government had been deceiving the American public for years! It's real convenient that the government can lie about everything and still feel they're on a higher moral ground than the "traitor" who exposed them. Patriotism is a strange animal, folks.

The book ends with a short look at Edward Snowden, who leaked NSA information about surveillance programs. He is also hailed as both a traitor and a patriot, depending on who you ask. Ellsberg obviously supports him, and the American government obviously does not. Do you think that the government should be able to keep secrets from us, in order to protect us? Isn't that super condescending? For us to accept this in the first place, we need to actually trust that the government will act in our best interests at all. This book clearly shows that it will definitely not do that. It's disingenuous to say that we need to keep secrets from the public because otherwise the enemy will know what we're doing - accepting that would require trust that the government wouldn't throw itself into conflicts that create "the enemy" in the first place. Patriotism is like unconditional love - it backfires when the object of it is abusive or manipulative.

This review is pretty dark - but the Vietnam war was a hugely dark mess, and the government keeping secrets from the public only turns out well for those at the top, so it's a dark topic. ( )
  katebrarian | Jul 28, 2020 |
This book covers a sweet spot in historical writing—new enough that it was heavily documented, yet old enough that we have access to so many of those documents. On top of that, Sheinkin nails the narrative history. This story is engaging, suspenseful, and convincing. My only gripe is that the book shows the seedy internal battles of Vietnam while valorizing all the rest of American history up to that point. Maybe this is limitted by the worldview of the characters we see the story through. But, for example, the RAND corporation is a prominent part of this book but it is never explained what Rand is, does, or why they have so much access to government.

Despite that, this is great book.

Also, it's unfortunate that the Watergate scandal was named after the most benign part of what was uncovered. ( )
  mitchtroutman | Jun 14, 2020 |
Wow! Very riveting read. I learned more about the American war in Vietnam in this book than from any other book. Found so many parallels to our current political environment. ( )
  Reyesk9 | Sep 23, 2019 |
Absolutely fantastic. ( )
  GratzFamily | Jul 28, 2019 |
Sheinkin has a remarkable gift for taking a complex historical situation and distilling it until a compelling story emerges. And he does it without sacrificing accuracy or fairness. This book is labelled young adult, but I'll be recommending it to adults as well. Outstanding. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 36) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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"The story of Daniel Ellsberg and his decision to steal and publish secret documents about America's involvement in the Vietnam War"--

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