Monday, February 29, 2016
NONFICTION MONDAY: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin
ABOUT THE BOOK
From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port Chicago 50 and Bomb comes a tense, exciting exploration of what the Times deemed "the greatest story of the century": how Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose the government's deceit. 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 had been comissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Chronicling 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 politicans claiming to represent their interests. A provocative book that interrogates the meanings of patriotism, freedom, and integrity, Most Dangerous further establishes Steve Sheinkin as a leader in children's nonfiction.
Sheinkin has written another compelling work of narrative nonfiction. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about events that I was not overly familiar with before reading this book. It's books like this that remind me and young readers that history can be as compelling as any novel when told well. The story here of not only Daniel Ellsberg but the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers was fascinating, and annoying as I read about people who continued the war for the sake of pride, despite knowing the only way to win would be to fully commit, something no president was ever willing to do. Sheinkin presents both sides of the Vietnam War through the eyes of not only Daniel Ellsberg but through others involved, including soldiers, protesters, and decision makers. It was interesting to read about Ellsberg's transformation from a loyal supporter of the war against communism to a war protester. I sympathized with his efforts to get someone to listen to what he has seen and heard during his two years in Vietnam with no success. One wonders if things might have turned out differently if someone is a position to do something had listened and responded. It was also eye-opening to read about Nixon's actions and to realize just how unethical they tended to be at times. This is a book that I highly, highly recommend to those who enjoy compelling historical narratives.