I just finished Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin. This book is edge-of-your-seat exciting, and really well done. Of course, I wasn’t surprised – I’ve read Bomb, also by Steve Sheinkin, and was blown away by that as well. Steve has really mastered the art of narrative non-fiction. I used to always think of myself as someone who didn’t like nonfiction – it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that it was because of the types of nonfiction books I had been exposed to, rather than anything inherent in nonfiction. I was an avid reader as a kid and teen – I gobbled up every book I could get my hands on. Some of these were nonfiction, such as memoirs. But I only thought of nonfiction as the boring texts I had to read at school. Steve’s books should be included in any library that serves young adults so that librarians can steer reluctant nonfiction readers their way.
Most Dangerous has more than 40 pages of additional information at the end, including works cited, source notes, photo credits, and an index. Steve is very thorough with his research, and it really shows in his writing. He presents the facts, pulled from various sources with different points of view, and lets those facts speak for themselves.
The book is filled with photographs and copies of important papers that support the text and enhance the reader’s experience. Each one is a reminder that this story is completely real. (And sometimes I needed that reminder – there are parts of this story that are hard to believe!). It just goes to show what they say is true – sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction!
The epilogue of the book really got to me, where Steve talked about Edward Snowden, and his actions in light of Daniel Ellsberg’s story. It is both encouraging to know that there are people in this world who will risk everything to balance out the immense power held by our government – and also scary that in some ways, history is repeating itself, even after all we have learned about the “secret history” of the Vietnam War.