Monthly Archives: March 2017

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin.

most-dang

I just found this title in my drafts and I can’t believe I didn’t write about it back when I had just finished it. It was in our YA section, but I think any person my age or a little older would like it as well, since it’s an in-depth look at events that happened when I was just too young to know what was going on, but certain words came up on the news over and over. I remember hearing nightly about Watergate and President Nixon and having no idea what was going on, and now it makes more sense.

The book begins by introducing us to Daniel Ellsberg and taking us through his military career and giving some background on the Vietnam War. Worth the price, right there – I had never quite understood how it all came about, and Sheinkin takes us (briefly) all the way back to the 1940s to give an idea of the events that led to the US involvement. We witness Ellsberg’s transformation from a military hotshot to a Pentagon consultant to a whistleblower who risks everything – and learn a great deal of American history in the process. It’s like a Tom Clancy novel with all of the intrigue and suspense, but has the added value of teaching history as well. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who wants to know more about the 1960s and 1970s and how the counterculture movement was born.

Oh, and the audiobook reader does great famous person voices.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C Mann

1491

Holy crap, this book. I had to check it out 3 times to get through it – it’s dense, and can get bogged down in details, and I had to skip backward a lot to figure out what I must have missed. But it’s worth the effort, because the picture it gives of the Americas before and immediately after the Europeans first landed is eye-opening. Be warned, though, if you are as susceptible to white guilt as I tend to be, you will be horrified. As well you should be, but…it’s excruciating at times. It’s interesting to note that the world of historians and anthropologists isn’t any different from the world of their larger societies – unpopular ideas, even with extraordinary amounts of evidence behind them, get squashed by the more powerful factions.