Presenter of the National Book Awards
2015 National Book Award Finalist, Young People's Literature
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
(Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's Publishing Group)
Most Dangerous recounts the story of America’s first large-scale government whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who became famous (or infamous) for leaking the “Pentagon Papers,” which exposed the questionable decisions that led the United States into the Vietnam War. A fascinating and incisive portrayal, Most Dangerous is both extremely timely and relevant despite being about events from more than forty years ago—and a book that all young people and adults should have on their reading list.
National Book Foundation: In the process of writing your book, what did you discover, what, if anything, surprised you?
Sheinkin: In researching the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers I learned about an incident I think is truly shocking, even in the context of a story full of secrets and lies. With the 1968 election approaching, Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, successfully undermined peace talks aimed at ending the war. Just days before the election, the talks were finally making progress, and Nixon feared a peace deal would rob him of his best issue – the Democrats’ failure in Vietnam. So Nixon secretly urged the president of South Vietnam to refuse to go to Paris for talks, promising that, if elected, he’d be a better friend to the South than Democrats had been. It worked – and the talks stalled again. And the most incredible part was that Lyndon Johnson knew all about it, thanks to wiretaps and intercepted cables! He privately (and, I'd argue, accurately) called it “treason,” but wasn’t sure he wanted to shock the world days before an election. So it was just one more secret from the American people.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The story of Daniel Ellsberg and his decision to steal and publish secret documents about America's involvement in the Vietnam War.
ABout the Author
Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic histories for young readers. His works have won numerous awards, including the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, a Newbery Honor, and a National Book Award Finalist. Steve's most recent book, a World War II civil rights story called The Port Chicago 50, is the winner of the 2014 Boston-Globe Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. Steve lives with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, NY.
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