They came to California to ruin a man.
- opening sentence
This book tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg and of the Vietnam War. He was a Marine, he worked as a military analyst for the Rand Corporation, and he even worked at the Pentagon. But he is most famous for releasing the Pentagon Papers - a seven thousand page top-secret classified document that covered the secret history of the Vietnam War.
The story is disturbing and informative. It's hard to believe some of the things the government was willing to cover up. And it's sad that so many Americans had to die in Vietnam, in what seems to have been an unwinnable war.
Before reading this book, I didn't know much about the Vietnam War. Of course, I learned about it in history class, but I don't remember much. History was never one of my favorite subjects. But I sometimes find myself reading historical fiction or books that reveal the truth behind historical events and really enjoying them.
I read this book for my Information Needs of Young Adults class. I probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own, but I'm really glad I read it. It was very eye-opening, and actually very sad. The lengths several presidents were willing to go to so that they wouldn't be the "first president to lose a war" are shocking.
At the end of the book, Sheinkin points out that despite what Ellsberg revealed, the government continues to keep secrets. He talks about Edward Snowden and how while we are all aware that the government needs to keep some secrets, how much secrecy is too much?
If you enjoy history or are interested in finding out more about the truth behind the Vietnam War, this might be the book for you. I also read The Port Chicago 50 by Sheinkin and really enjoyed it. I will be looking for more by this author in the future.