Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War” as Want to Read:
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  5,397 ratings  ·  1,075 reviews
In 1964, Daniel Ellsberg was one of the Pentagon insiders helping to plan a war in Vietnam. The mountainous Asian country had long been a clandestine front in America's Cold War with the Soviet Union. The U.S. Government would do anything to stop the spread of communism--with or without the consent of the American people.

But as the fighting in Vietnam escalated. Ellsberg t
Hardcover, 1st edition (US/CAN), 370 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Most Dangerous, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kristi Starr Yes. I've read Bomb, Port Chicago 50, The Notorious Benedict Arnold, and Lincoln's Grave Robbers. Basically, I'll read anything he writes. …moreYes. I've read Bomb, Port Chicago 50, The Notorious Benedict Arnold, and Lincoln's Grave Robbers. Basically, I'll read anything he writes. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,397 ratings  ·  1,075 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Written for middle school age children, this book races along like a political thriller and will hook most readers, this adult included, with its all too real story from the Vietnam War era. I was in high school when the top secret Pentagon Papers were printed in newspapers around the country, so I remember Daniel Ellsberg and the revelations he made public, but author Steve Sheinkin fills in details that were unknown at the time, at least by me.

For people who weren’t alive then, this history w
This isn't a thorough biography, but it is very readable & Sheinkin did a great job of sticking to the topic at hand. The book may have been written for a younger audience, but I enjoyed it thoroughly & thought he did a great job. It was very well narrated, too.

Few remember just how crazy things were back then. A lot was happening of vast importance & so many others try to tie the disparate pieces together. It's too much: Civil Rights, China, the Cold War, Yom Kippur War, & plenty more. For inst
This is the story of Ellsberg's release of 7,000 pages of Top Secret Pentagon papers revealing five president's continuing unsuccessful strategies in Vietnam. From Truman to Nixon, the American people were deceived by reports of progress (if we add more service men or bomb more cities in the North) when the war was not possible to win. Ellsberg's conversion from a Pentagon and Rand Corp wartime strategist to the advocate for stopping the war is a revealing of the conviction of a man's mind and s ...more
Monica Edinger
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding presentation of a very difficult time in US history. Sheinkin has managed to distill some very complex stuff into a compelling and, at times, compulsive read. Even for me who has a vivid recollection of much that is in the book*, seeing those bumbling Plumbers at work, reading Nixon's comments, and being reminded of the horror of what we saw on the nightly news and newspapers as to what was going on in Southeast Asia made for a riveting reading experience. It fascinated me ...more
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

‘Perspective is everything.’

Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst at the Pentagon in 1964. He worked under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and had access to confidential documents which were never reported to the American people, but it was a part of his job to keep that information contained. He visited Vietnam personally and seeing the war firsthand irrevocably changed his understanding and opinion of the United States’ fight with Vietnam. Upon his return, hi
Michael Perkins
Jul 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers

Somebody had to show some courage, but most did not...

“Yes, everybody was lying but for different reasons and for different causes. In particular, a very large range of high-level doves thought we should get out and should not have got involved at all. They were lying to the public to give the impression that they were supporting the president when they did not believe in what the president was doing.

They did not agree with it, but they did not speak out as
Dana Stabenow
This book begins with a crime commissioned directly by President Richard Nixon.

They came to California to ruin a man. Not to kill him, not literally. But the next best thing.

The man was Daniel Ellsberg. "They" were Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, aka the Plumbers, surveiling Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office so they can burgle his records for dirt on Ellsberg, who had just released the Pentagon Papers to the press. The Pentagon Papers was a study commissioned in 1967 by Robert McNamara, a clear, ir
Kristy Miller
I'm fairly well versed in political history, but I didn't know much about Ellsberg or the Pentagon Papers before this. I had always been drawn to the larger events around him, like the Kennedy administration and Watergate. I knew that some documents had been leaked from the Pentagon that shed light on what was happening in Vietnam, but not much else. So this was a truly enlightening book. Sheinkin tells how Ellsberg went from Pentagon insider to anti-war hero. He goes through how we went from vi ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
When Steve Sheinkin writes, readers listen, and for good reason. His nonfiction is generally evenhanded and researched comprehensively to provide clear explanation of the material and how it's relevant to us. Steve Sheinkin rose to renown after the release of Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, a 2013 Newbery Honor book, but he produced respected nonfiction before that and would continue doing so after. In 2015 came his most in-depth treatise yet, Most Dangerous: ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although I was in school when Watergate and the Pentagon Papers were big stories, I was only beginning to be politically aware. In fact, I spent many afternoons after school watching the Watergate Hearings broadcast live on TV. Even so, I have always been unclear on exactly what the link was between the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-in, among other aspects of the complicated stories.

Steve Sheinkin does a fantastic job of describing the events in a step by step fashion, so that the whol
Grace {Rebel Mommy Book Blog}
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I had this book on my wishlist because of AJ over Read All the Things! I found the subject of the book - Daniel Ellsberg and him releasing the Pentagon Papers which was a 7,000 page top secret document on the Vietnam war - very interesting. A lot of that has to do with my dad was drafted into the war when he was 19. I really wanted to understand more about the war because I am horrible with my history. I listened to this one and it was a fabulous audio. I couldn't stop listening. Even th
Meg Zuehl
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm just going to admit this pretty embarrassing fact. I am a history major, I teach US history, and I have never even heard of half the details covered in this book. The amount of governmental corruption that surrounded the Vietnam War is unbelievable. So is the fact that the corruption of the Vietnam War and Watergate is interconnected. This book reads like a blockbuster and I really hope it is tuned into a movie. The American public should know about this. Perhaps the generation that was aliv ...more
❤Marie Gentilcore
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, sync
This book made me remember why I hate politics because reading about crooked dealings and outright lies to the public just makes me feel so powerless and angry. I was just a baby during the Vietnam war so I was very interested to learn about this part of history. In the last couple of years I've read a lot about WW2 so it was good to learn about this war. And, this book was well written and told in a way which made it compelling. I do feel conflicted though about leaking top secret information. ...more
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author is obviously an admirer of Mr. Ellsberg in this somewhat sketchy book. Ellsberg had the strength of his convictions and was willing to pay the price. To compare Edward Snowden with Ellsberg (in the epilogue) is hyperbole. By leaving his country, Snowden demonstrates a lack of courage. He is free to criticize America while in Russia but I doubt he is free to criticize his adoptive country's government. Members of Pussy Riot were convicted of 'hooliganism' and sent to prison. I won't be ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book about Daniel Ellsberg, a man who worked at a top secret job that gave him access to classified documents which he copied and leaked to newspapers across America. He realized the American people were not being told the truth about what was really going on. While visiting Vietnam, he saw the horror and devastation the Vietnamese people were experiencing and realized the injustice of the war.
Aj Sterkel
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A few years ago, I dragged a carryon wheelie suitcase through two airports. The suitcase contained a bunch of books and 1,500 pages of documents. The suitcase was so heavy that several kindly strangers had to help me wrestle it onto the plane and into the overhead bin. Good thing my documents weren’t secret because people kept asking me what the hell was in the suitcase.

Can you imagine dragging around a 7,000-page top-secret document? A document that you’ve stolen from the government and plan t
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Most Dangerous" was my choice for our book group to read. I was tentative about choosing it because it is classified as a Young Adult book. This is somewhat of an issue because the writing style is simpler than what you would expect in an adult non-fiction, but Sheinkin does an excellent job of telling the very complex story in a comprehensible manner, with several pages of end notes and sources. For students, this is an excellent example of research.
For many of us, the names in the book may be
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent YA book by Steve Sheinkin that's suitable for all readers. ("Bomb" is the other excellent Sheinkin book. "The Port Chicago 50" is the only other Sheinkin book I've read and it's good but not up to the level of "Most Dangerous" or "Bomb.")

Most Dangerous is a great primer on how America got involved in Vietnam, what kept it there and why it eventually left. Daniel Ellsburg is the centerpiece but there's sufficient attention to the LBJ and Nixon presidencies to provide a wider foc
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast-paced recounting of the politics around the Vietnam War and the exposure of the government's misdeeds through the Pentagon Papers. Engaging and useful history. I hadn't really understood before how Nixon's response to the Pentagon Papers foreshadowed his Watergate crimes. The book is vaguely comforting in reminding me that the U.S. government has been profoundly fucked up before now. And that we still have people like Daniel Ellsberg (or just Edward Snowden, I guess) who risk everything t ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this after seeing a recommendation in World magazine. It was hard to read yet so enlightening. A reminder that there is nothing new under the sun. History does indeed repeat itself. I was born just as the war in Vietnam was officially beginning, so I found this book to be so helpful in supplementing my own recollections.
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
An excellent overview of the long, brutal Vietnam War. Reminded me of an old rage - temporary distraction from current rage. U.S. government has such a long history of lies and lack of caring for honesty, honor and U.S. citizens.
Jul 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
THIS. BOOK. IS. AWESOME. It’s amazing how an author can get a true story, and create it into a suspenseful, thrilling book. This one was a page turner. I would have to admit it started out slow, but it gave you tons of facts on Daniel Ellsberg and corporates it into the book. It is a historical book, but the way he writes it you might think otherwise. 11/10 !!!
Barb Middleton
Steven Sheinkin is one of my favorite history writers for young readers. His narrative style creates characters with distinct voices along with brilliant craft at revealing plot elements that resemble a thriller. No dry history facts here, folks. This guy knows how to take the pertinent information in history and pull the reader into the story. Like "Bomb," this is more difficult to read than your ordinary elementary-book-fare but students in my Newbery book club that have read it really like it ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
I realize Steve Sheinkin’s books are for kids, but I totally, 100% don’t care. Non-fiction? More like non-stop thrill ride.

I love how he writes about history as if it’s urgent. Increasingly, I’m becoming aware that it is indeed urgent for average Americans to understand what’s happened in the past, so we can avoid living in a Groundhog Day-type loop of bad political and humanitarian decisions in our present.

With Most Dangerous, Sheinkin turns his attention to the Vietnam War: what started it, a
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This made me so angry. And terribly discouraged. And proud. And hopeful. The idea that the people we elected to represent us, out of pure stubbornness, would put so many lives in danger makes me want to shake my fist at the sky. But the idea that one person, out of pure stubbornness, could make such a huge difference in the lives of people he'd never met makes me want to stand up and cheer for humanity.

I struggled with the audiobook format, because there was just so much I didn't have a good fra
Suzanne Dix
I am equal parts horrified at how little I know about the Pentagon Papers and the Vietnam War and deeply depressed that our government is so duplicitous.

Steve Sheinkin delivers again though I would not put this in the hands of middle school students...the history is simply too confusing and without a better sense of modern political history and the American 60s, they will be lost. Heck, I was lost most of the time. It reads like an espionage thriller. Sadly the "who done it" was the combination
I read this Nonfiction Book Award Winner as part of the 2016 Hub Challenge. I have read and loved all Sheinkin's nonfiction books and Most Dangerous does not disappoint!!! Sheinkin's thrilling narrative and thorough research brought the Vietnam War and it's atrocities alive. The government's role was riveting and heinous. Daniel Ellsberg was a dedicated government employee who was passionate in everything he did and Sheinkin's portrayal was moving and convincing. I could not stop turning the pag ...more
Well, that was an eerie book to read right now. I can't decide if it was encouraging or depressing. Maybe a bit of both.

This is an important book just because it is a messy part of U.S. history that is not regularly discussed in the classroom. I was embarrassed by how little I knew about the Vietnam war, Nixon's White House, and Daniel Ellsberg so I am really glad I picked up this book.

Definitely a good title to get into the hands of teens, very relevant. It would be fantastic for a book discus
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. This book was GREAT, and it's the book I find myself telling everyone about. It is the narrative nonfiction tale of Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers. The story covers the history of the Vietnam War, the activities of numerous presidential administrations with respect to information and misinformation provided to the public, the leak of the papers, all the way up to the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation. Meant for a young audience, it reads like a novel-- ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I have a better understanding about the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal now. My dad, a Vietnam veteran, didn’t like to talk about the war. My uncles were kind of the same way. I don’t blame them.

I’m glad books like this exist, so the story can be told that honors those impacted by such a terrible event.

While I understand the similarities to the Snowden situation, I don’t think it’s the same. I don’t think we should compare his secrets to the tragedy of the many many lives lost in the war
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Taylor Robert's Review 6 1 1 May 01, 2019 08:33PM  
Taylor Robert's Review 6 1 1 Apr 30, 2019 06:04PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Gracious Enemy & After the War Volume One
  • Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and The Endurance
  • Surviving Chaos: How I Found Peace at A Beach Bar
  • A Gracious Enemy & After the War Volume Two
  • Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific
  • The Disappearing Spoon: Young Readers Edition
  • The Dead of Night (Tomorrow, #2)
  • The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
  • A Long Long Way (Dunne Family #3)
  • The Pandarus File
  • Shooting Kabul
  • The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
  • The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh
  • Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II
  • Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves
  • War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
  • The Master Butchers Singing Club
  • A Duet for Home
See similar books…
See top shelves…
From: http://stevesheinkin.com/about/

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and my family lived in Mississippi and Colorado before moving back to New York and settling in the suburbs north of New York City. As a kid my favorite books were action stories and outdoor adventures: sea stories, searches for buried treasure, sharks eating people… that kind of thing. Probably my all-time favorite was a book called

News & Interviews

  Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people love books about falling in love. Every month our team sorts through...
2 likes · 0 comments
“They were willing to send men and women to death to avoid being called losers.” 3 likes
“The security of the nation is not at the ramparts alone," the judge [Murray Gurfein] wrote in a passage that has been quoted ever since. "Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” 2 likes
More quotes…