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MOST DANGEROUS, Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

Author: Steve Sheinkin

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2015

Material: hard cover

Summary: Daniel Ellsberg is the man who stole, copied, and gave a classified US document about Vietnam to US newspapers. The study, commonly known as the "The Pentagon Papers," detailed the history of military activities in Vietnam. Based on his own experience on the ground in Vietnam, government insider, and defense contractor, Ellsberg knew that government officials were lying to American citizens and Congress. Knowing that he could be charged with treason, Ellsberg chose to release the top secret report to the public. His actions so infuriated President Nixon that the President took extra-legal action to try to neutralize Daniel Ellsberg and ultimately snowballed into Watergate. This is a young adult nonfiction biography and history of the Vietnam War era.

Type of Reading: anytime reading, independent reading

Recommended Age: read together: 13 and Up; read yourself: 12 and Up

Interest Level: 14 and Up

Reading Level: 6.7

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: Sheinkin is a master of narrative nonfiction. Extensive research and personal detail give the reader a "parallel history." Even taking away the Daniel Ellsberg story, this is an exceptional history of the Vietnam War era. Readers unfamiliar with the history can see the bigger picture AND isolate specific factors that affected Ellsberg's thinking and ultimate path. The character list at the front gives readers unfamiliar with the players a much-needed ready reference.

Although listed at a "middle grade" interest level (ARbookfind), this is more suited to a high school (and older) audience.

Pros: Most Dangerous is a well-written biography that will appeal to history lovers and those interested in political science. Readers will find it easy to read and more like a novel than a textbook.

Cons: The book covers several decades, including multiple presidencies. The number of characters may cause confusion for some readers. In his epilogue, the author introduces Edward Snowden, and asks readers to consider his case - but without the same level of depth and fact as presented in the Ellsberg story.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Readers interested in history, political science, or Constitutional studies will find this a compelling read.

If You Liked This Book, Try: BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD--AND STEAL--THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON   LAST AIRLIFT, A VIETNAMESE ORPHAN'S RESCUE FROM WAR   AFTER GANDHI: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE

Educational Themes: Most Dangerous covers decades of governmental and world history. With additional information about the First Amendment, espionage and classification laws, there are ample opportunities to discuss choices, rights and responsibilities of citizens, et al.

Notes: Our reviewer borrowed this book from the library to read it as part of the 2015 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - biography, US history, political science, history, young adult

Date(s) Reviewed: February 2016

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.




                 

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