August 17, 2017

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Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin | SLJ Review

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mostdangerousSHEINKIN, Steve. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War. 384p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781596439528.

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

This review was published in School Library Journal‘s September 2015 issue.

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