This was previously published on GoodReads…
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As many of you know from reading my reviews, I have an affinity for historical books from the Vietnam War era. This is because this was “my” war. This was the terrifying event that was happening on the evening news when I was a kid. This is because of the fear my parents had regarding my draft-age brother in 1969. It was these and many other things that make it “my” war; including the excellent music from that era. Rock & Roll had something to say. It said it LOUDLY! What it was saying was that this war SUCKED. It was WRONG. I agreed then and I still do.
As I’ve aged and gained that experience and wisdom that you usually don’t manage to get till you’re too old to use it, I’ve learned just how wrong and insanely stupid this war really was. I’ve also learned how government run amok can get a country into a wasted effort such as this and continue to maintain that country’s presence on the battlefields along with all the useless death that entails.
The man who wrote this book I’m reviewing here is nothing less than a National Hero. I hope history is kind to him and convinces everyone that what I state is true. This man decided that he had to stop this inane war even if it caused harm to his family, friends, future job prospects; even if it put him behind bars for life. He realized just how wrong this war was and how terribly wrong those in the government were for using all means legal or not to continue the useless killing of U.S. soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors, etc.; how wrong it was to continue the killing of many innocent civilians in South and North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
If you’re the least bit curious how government works behind closed doors, or the least bit curious how Donald Trump’s White House may be handling foreign affairs and even domestic ones, then you should read this book. Ellsberg was a deep insider for many years as a consultant with the Rand Corp. and as an actual government employee at times. He knows how government works; particularly how the Executive Branch of this government (the U.S.) lies, manipulates, threatens, and sucks up in order to get its agenda pushed through to fruition.
You’ll learn about how the Eisenhower administration did it. You see how the Kennedy administration continued down the same paths. You’ll see how Johnson was just a further continuation of the previous two administrations. You’ll see how an opposing president (Nixon – Republican) did everything in what he assumed was his vast kingly powers to continue down the same road the three previous Democratic administrations had trod. You’ll be amazed at all these administrations’ lack of compassion or regrets regarding all the dead, wounded, and maimed (physically and mentally) that they created by pursuing their goals in this unbelievably complex war in a small Southeast Asian country.
Ellsberg did not feel that presidents should have unlimited powers to engage a country in wars such as this without the knowledge of that country’s own elected officials (Congress) or, more importantly, it’s own citizens. Yet, this is exactly what happened during that era; through four separate administrations. The deceit and secretiveness of those pursuing these goals was criminal. And sadly, I believe this still goes on today, 50 years later.
Read this book. It’s as pertinent to current times as it was for the Vietnam War era. It will make you think. This is its purpose. It may also make you think about others who’ve tried to raise the alarm in recent years… WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden. I believe their day of vindication is coming.
The U.S. Constitution starts by saying,
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Notice first three words in bold type. It does NOT say we the Executive Branch or we the Congress or we the Justice Department. It says We the People. The insidious creeping that has robbed the People of their government and country should be reversed and forever erased. Only We the People can make this happen. Wake up!
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