Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book of the Month

Time for a new Book of the Week. But it appears I was a little ambitious in thinking I could actually get a new review out every week. I guess it's more of a Book of the Month now.

So, that said, I noted over my holiday that there is a new Pentagon Papers exposé in the wind.

By an interesting coincidence, when this news broke, had I just finished reading Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

Daniel Ellsberg, for those of you too young to recall, is one of the most important patriots of the 20th Century, who went from conservative Cold Warrior to anti-war activist while working with super-secret documents both at the State Department and the Defense Department and also with the think-tank Rand Corporation.

This eminently readable and totally gripping account shows the steps in that process, and illustrates why a member of the Nixon White House called him "the most dangerous man in America". Had Ellsberg not released those thousands of documents that were the "smoking gun" proving that an ignoble succession of five presidents had consistently lied to the American people about their goals in Vietnam, then the infamous White House "Plumbers" would not have been formed and there would have been no Watergate burglary and consequently no resignation of Richard Nixon.

And while it's easy to look back and play "What If?", I'm not crazy enough to want to find out what an unfettered by domestic problems Richard Nixon would have done to SE Asia -- after all, there was a lot of loose talk about so-called "tactical nuclear weapons" with battlefield control in the early Nixon Administration.

So we have Daniel Ellsberg to thank for changing the course of history. The least we can do in return is to buy his book, an insider's account of historical events and decisions that we were involved in as unwilling participants -- victims, even -- that ought to be required reading in every high school civics* history class.
Highly recommended!

[* Sorry, nobody learns "civics" any more...]


Anonymous said...

While Facebook chatting with my nephew deployed in Iraq a few months ago, he kept suckering me into revealing little bits of family stuff meant to surprise him upon his return home. I finally told him that I was becoming the Daniel Ellsberg of the family - and then had to explain who Ellsberg was (still is) and what he did. The nephew derives endless pleasure from pointing out that he doesn't need history books as he has a relative who lived through most of history. Sigh. ;)

Hope you and family had a pleasant time.

Jay in N.C.

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks, Jay. You should feel honored that you are considered a "wise elder" in your family.
In my family, I'm just considered a "wise guy"...

Anonymous said...

Ah, if only. No, I'm not considered a wise elder - just unbelievably old and eccentric. :)

Jay in N.C.

Farnsworth68 said...

I hear you. LOL.
--The F Man