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Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  713 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
In 1971 former Cold War hard-liner Daniel Ellsberg made history by releasing the Pentagon Papers-a 7,000-page top-secret study of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam-to the New York Times and Washington Post. The document set in motion a chain of events that ended not only the Nixon presidency but the Vietnam War. In this remarkable memoir, Ellsberg describes in dramatic detai ...more
Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Published (first published 2002)
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Hadrian
The recent attention over the Wikileaks cases, the Manning trial and Snowden's flight to Russia all have their precedent of Ellsberg in Vietnam. Although there are substantial differences in the nature and continuing effects of these cases, it still remains evident that the ethical imperative to 'speak truth to power' and to say the right thing even at immense personal cost is still alive and well.

That being said, this book, although overly long at points (and containing information about Vietna
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Rachel
Mar 04, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw Daniel Ellsberg at a 2008 Great Conversations event at the University of Minnesota. He impressed me with his astonishing grasp of past and present events (he's either 76 or 78, depending on which source I'm relying on is correct), and his clear philosophy of right v. wrong. (Sounds simple I know, but I find it's rare in today's politics.) If you're interested, the audio is online: www.cce.umn.edu/conversations/audio.html

Back to the book...
Secrets at its best is a look into how the American
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Jamie
Aug 05, 2015 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to say something much longer here, but, in short: it’s the kind of book I immediately pass on to my father and then we discuss it for the next two six months.

There’s not a dry paragraph in the book. I’m tempted to say there’s not a paragraph that didn’t humble me. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject, from the man who practically wrote the subject. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
Pabgo
Nov 16, 2015 Pabgo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome memoir! Read like a thriller, a page turner. And it really happened!! All your favorite characters are there: Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, John Paul Vann, Neil Sheehan, and of course, Ellsberg himself. All the despots too, Mitchel, Erlichman, Kissinger, Hunt, Colson, Halderman, that psychopath Liddy, and the biggest scumbag of all, responsible for the needless deaths of thousands upon thousands (many young Americans), the war criminal Richard Nixon.
This is a detailed story of a true patr
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Keith MacKinnon
Feb 23, 2011 Keith MacKinnon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Words of James Madison, drafter of the First Amendment:

“A popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."


Words of H. R. Haldeman spoken to President Nixon, Oval Office tapes, June 14, 1971, on the impact of the Pentagon Papers:

"To the ordinary guy, all this is a bun
...more
Phil
Aug 29, 2007 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was incredible. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in learning something about the Vietnam War and the lies and atrocities committed by our government. Ellsberg tells the story of his experience working for the Pentagon at the time and his travels in Vietnam. He risks his career and his life to release top secret Pentagon documents that expose the abuses of our government. It's a shame this book isn't more popular and that more people don't know who Ellsberg is and what he did for ...more
Themistocles
Mar 01, 2011 Themistocles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
A great book that reads like an Oliver Stone movie: one part Vietnam war, one part political thriller. Not only does Ellsberg a fantastic story to tell, but he tells it well to boot.

Granted, there are a few points that go on slowly, where he discusses internal politics, and also the final part (the papers release and the trial period) is toned down compared to third-party accounts and documentaries, but perhaps it's to be expected, since he's talking about himself...
Alina Spiegel
Aug 12, 2016 Alina Spiegel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly important read for any American who believes that our foreign policy should be determined democratically. This book reveals the extent to which U.S. presidents can (and have) deceived the American public and the congress. It describes a culture (that likely still exists) in the executive branch that dismisses the opinions of a "common citizen" as uninformed, and therefore, not worth consideration. It begins to explain how a war so unpopular with the American public could last for t ...more
Dawn
Mar 05, 2016 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long before the birth of Edward Snowden, America was rocked by the revelations of whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. This autobiography provides insight into his life and motivations, while also meticulously detailing the government's efforts to arrest and silence him.

Labeled a hero by some and a traitor by others, Ellsberg's release of the notorious (and highly classified) Pentagon Papers, a study by the US Government and the Rand Corporation of America's struggle in Vietnam, would shake American p
...more
Randall Wallace
Nov 09, 2014 Randall Wallace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love in this book when Daniel in Vietnam comes across Japanese pillboxes and mounds of old stones of a Chinese fort and realized through interpreters that the Vietnamese believe they removed the Chinese after 1,000 years and the Japanese left much faster, so what hope does the US have to be successful? Arthur Schlesinger discusses the Vietnam policy of “one more step” – each step would be framed as one more step to victory while the outcome was that every step deepened US involvement in a quag ...more
Susan
Sep 04, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This meticulously detailed book details Daniel Ellsburg at first supporting the war in Vietnam to exposing the lies of three decades of American foreign policy decisions made during the Vietnam War. His work at the Pentagon provided the springboard of exposing the lies because he had total access to confidential documents and secret files that covered up secret maneuvers and other operations that put our government and our soldiers in jeopardy.

After his volunteer tour in Vietnam as a State Depar
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Steve
May 19, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Secrets" is the memoir of Daniel Ellsberg, the patriotic whistleblower who leaked a top-secret history of the Vietnam War (later called the "Pentagon Papers") in order to help end it, by revealing to the American people that the case for the war had been built on decades of lies and deception -- and that the war was not only unjust, but also fundamentally unwinnable.

Ellsberg was a high-level analyst who spent considerable time in Vietnam and advising policy-makers; he was, in fact, a Cold Warri
...more
Jamie
Jun 11, 2013 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In light of Manning and the CIA/NSA/FBI whistleblower, Ellsberg - altho very old school and a total pioneer - didn't have strike teams out to find him.. =\
Michal Mironov
May 26, 2016 Michal Mironov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TLDR: Stop watching House of Cards, the life itself provides better screenplay, and there are real things happening out there!

Can you imagine situation, when otherwise peaceful man surprisingly finds himself shouting at generals in Vietnam: “I need more blood, more casualties!” (so president have an excuse to start a war)? Because that's exactly what happened to Daniel Ellsberg.

Can you imagine almighty bureaucratic machinery which makes even the most powerful people losing their moral integrity
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Dennis
There are 3 branches to the federal government under the law of the constitution. One would hope, given the tenets of the constitution, that each would keep each under check. Authority, or power, absolute, corrupts absolutely. Dr. Ellsberg's book shows clearly that abuse of those powers leads to destruction. The premise is simple: go to war; see death and destruction; analyze death and destruction to gain a superiority; then overcome. Or win. Blunt, yet mistaken. Ho Chi Minh was un-defeatable, a ...more
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 Frederick Bingham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir of Daniel Ellsberg. He was a mid-level analyst who worked at the Pentagon, State Department, Rand Corp. and other government and private jobs. He became famous in 1971 with the release of the Pentagon Papers, a classified study of the history of the war in Vietnam. The study showed a consistent pattern of lies and misinformation put out by the government over a period of 25 years between the late 1940's and mid 1960's.He discusses the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and the lies put out ...more
Scott Holstad
Oct 21, 2012 Scott Holstad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a lengthy but fascinating book to read. I'd had it for awhile, but had never opened it. Now I'm glad I did. Daniel Ellsberg was an analyst with the State Department, Department of Defense, was a Marine in Vietnam, and worked for the infamous Rand Corporation. He knew details about the Vietnam War that most did not, and in the late '60s, he worked to uncover even more. Why? During his time in Vietnam, he had come to the conclusion that it was an immoral, unwinnable war, and he found in h ...more
nanto
Aug 06, 2008 nanto marked it as wishlist-‎a-k-a-buku-buruan  ·  review of another edition
Filmnya kere...n, beruntung dia punya teman yang ada di sisinya ketika semua menuding dan menjauh. Salah satu teman itu akhirinya dinikahinya. Wanita yang menjadi pendamping di saat dia sendiri, bahkan ketika tidak mungkin lagi melibatkan anak-anaknya.

Tapi film TV yang berjudul The Pentagon's Paper bukan berdasarkan buku ini. Skenario film ini selesai terlebih dahulu dibandingkan memoir Ellsberg ini. Pembuatan filmnya juga tidak banyak konsultasi dengan Ellsberg. Sehingga banyak dialog yang men
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Kristin Jenkins
Jun 06, 2014 Kristin Jenkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment. And the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been the accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the president wants to do even though it's wrong and the president can be wrong."

The Vietnam War era intrigues me and this book di
...more
Steve Van Slyke
Apr 23, 2010 Steve Van Slyke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Both an entertaining suspense thriller, as Ellsberg goes underground to avoid being nabbed by the FBI before he can release the Pentagon Papers, as well as a major piece of the history of how and why five US administrations led their country deeper and deeper into the abyss of Viet Nam. I'm currently reading Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly, which also addresses the latter. Whether or not you agree with what Ellsberg did, you have to admire him for being willing to give up everything meaning ...more
Kinksrock
Jan 19, 2016 Kinksrock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very important book. After reading it, I have a better understanding of how we got embroiled in Vietnam and how the Watergate crisis came about.

Because of all the names and government agencies mentioned (often by their initials after their first mention), a glossary of persons and agencies would be helpful.
Ted
Aug 31, 2014 Ted rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While Ellsberg's writing style can be a bit long-winded, this book dishes the real goods about 4 presidents and their policy making around the Vietnam War. Everything officially told to the press and people was a lie. This book should be required reading for college or high school.
Dan Cohen
Oct 11, 2015 Dan Cohen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this excellent book. The story of Ellsberg's career leading up to his leaking of what came to be known as the Pentagon papers is well told and very interesting. But the book really distinguishes itself in the sections where Ellsberg considers whether he was right to do what he did in leaking the material, and, more to the point, whether he should have done it sooner and whether he should have been so acquiescent in his earlier career.

Apparently Ellsberg has written articles abou
...more
Christine B.
Oct 25, 2015 Christine B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this to prep for a discussion of whistle blowers with my honours class. It was interesting, but definitely better once it got to the part where Ellsberg was talking about actually leaking the papers.
Nick Black
what a mess that was (the buildup in vietnam, not Secrets). this reads like an informed moral justification for ellsberg's security violations more than anything, though, which is certainly going to result in a biased view. more interesting for large-scale analysis of decision making than details (for the latter, consult e.g. stanley kurnow's Vietnam).
Garth
Jan 21, 2011 Garth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
A very important book which tells the inside story of the exposure of the systemic lies which successive US Executive branches (from Eisenhower to Nixon) told the US Legislature and public – because their real objectives would have been unacceptable and unsupportable if they were more widely understood.

A multitude of Executive and Pentagon staffers from all levels knew of the lies but rated their careers as more important than the lives of young Americans in Vietnam.

More profound than WikiLeaks
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Robert Bason
Having lived through the 1960s, my political awareness of the Pentagon papers case with Dan Ellsberg was extreme. So for me, this book read like a mystery. Very thrilling.
Mike Bascom
Nov 30, 2014 Mike Bascom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
these folks knew they could not win vietnam in 1963 and the tactics of the vc would cause a steady stream of casualties for no gain. at least he tried to do something.
Andrew Stotz
Feb 15, 2016 Andrew Stotz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true American hero fighting against the near unlimited power of the Executive branch. Such an important lesson in history. What really is a democracy?
Magie Dominic
Dec 29, 2015 Magie Dominic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent!
Excellent recording of history.


Daniel Ellsberg. 2002. "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers." New York: Viking Press
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Daniel Ellsberg is a former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of US government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.

Ellsberg is the recipient of the Inaugural Ron Ridenhour Courage Prize, a pri
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