Monday, October 4, 2010

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers Review

Secrets - A memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Daniel Ellsberg

"But, it is just history," Daniel Ellsberg was told. Over and over Senators and Congressmen told him, "It is just history." Four thousand one hundred pages of history. Who's got time for it? Who would ever read it, never mind publish it in a newspaper?

Daniel Ellsberg was/is clearly an intellectual, or he never would have even considered the notion that anyone would be concerned about "history." He was and still is concerned with all those foolish things that most of us do not have the time for. Things like principle, right and wrong, injustice, the difference between killing and murder, is napalm a weapon or a terrorist act?

It is difficult to believe but there was a time when the "world" was actually debating the morality of dropping a hand grenade from an aircraft. What if the random grenade hit a civilian, was the concern.

Today even the good guys are launching "unmanned" rockets all over the world just like the Nazis did in World War II to the horror of the British and everyone else ... for a moment or two. These days when they blow up some unintended people the launchers apologize. The innocent dead are referred to as collateral damage. Oops ... Sorry.

Wash your salmonella drenched chicken before you eat it. Why can't I eat rat poison if I want to? Isn't this a free country? If she and her children choose to sleep in a sewer, that's their business. So what if automobiles are responsible for the deaths of more Americans than all of our wars combined. I like my car. Pollution ... smulution, who cares?

Daniel was wondering about a soldier's responsibility to follow orders. If a soldier is ordered to shoot his mother, must he comply? Is there a personal responsibility in agreeing to pick up a weapon? Is shooting into a bush or a hut in an enemy village ... reconnaissance? Or is it killing ... murder, maybe? Is slitting a non-combatant's throat because he has seen you in an area that you shouldn't be in, an acceptable act of war? Intellectual gibberish.

And Secrets is a history of our time ... my time. And I wonder how many of my contemporaries have read it? I wonder how many younger people have read it - this is going to be their world shortly, you know.

This book was printed in 2002 - after 911 and before Iraq and Afghanistan. Again Daniel was asking us to read more history. Once again he thought that he could stop a war. Once again it didn't happen. Some guys never learn. I think Daniel needs to read some more history.
He called the book Secrets. I think there is a reason he called his book Secrets and not The Pentagon Papers Revisited or Vietnam II and III. He did it because there still exists the misconception that in this day of 24 hour 7 days a week news coverage "Secrets" can't be kept from American citizens. This book stands as a testament to the notion that "they" can always fool the people and most of the time it can be done ALL of the time.

I read your history book, Daniel, and I got your message. I got it last time back in the 60s also ... even though I didn't read the Pentagon Papers. It "trickled" down. I got the non-intellectual version - the street version. "This is all a bunch of crap," is what I heard. "They're all a bunch of liars and crooks," is what I heard. "Hell no; I won't go," is what I heard.

But aside from learning anything "behavior changing" this rendering is a trip through a human conscience. It is a blow by blow description of how a very intelligent soldier and confirmed cold warrior is transformed into a war resister and a "peacenik."

It is quite a story. It could be a movie ... and it was. The Pentagon Papers is what it was called. I watched the movie too.

I'm reading a lot of history of my own times these days. This is a good one. Sure it is only history ... but what else are you doing?

Books written by Richard Noble - The Hobo Philosopher:
"Hobo-ing America: A Workingman's Tour of the U.S.A.."
"A Summer with Charlie" Salisbury Beach, Lawrence YMCA
"A Little Something: Poetry and Prose
"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" Novel - Lawrence, Ma.
"The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column.
"Noble Notes on Famous Folks" Humor - satire - facts.
"America on Strike" American Labor - History

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers Overview

Daniel Ellsberg began his career as the coldest of cold warriors-a U. S. Marine company commander, a Pentagon analyst, and a staunch supporter of America's battle against Communist expansion. But in October 1969, Ellsberg-fully expecting to spend the rest of his life in prison-set out to turn around American foreign policy by smuggling out of his office the seven-thousand-page top-secret study, known as the Pentagon Papers, of U.S. decision making in Vietnam. Now, for the first time, Ellsberg tells the full story of how and why he became one of the nation's most impassioned and influential anti-war activists-and how his actions helped alter the course of U.S. history.

Covering the decade between his entry into the Pentagon and Nixon's resignation, Secrets is Ellsberg's meticulously detailed insider's account of the secrets and lies that shaped American foreign policy during the Vietnam era. Ellsberg provides a vivid eyewitness account of the two years he spent behind the lines in Vietnam as a State Department observer-an experience that convinced him of the hopelessness of Johnson's policies and profoundly altered his own political thinking. As Ellsberg recounts with drama and insight, the release of the Pentagon Papers, first to The New York Times and The Washington Post, set in motion a train of events that ultimately toppled a president and helped to end an unjust war.

Infused with the political passion and turmoil of the Vietnam era, Secrets is at once the memoir of a committed, daring man, an insider's exposé of Washington, and a meditation on the meaning of patriotism under a government intoxicated by keeping secrets.

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