Discussion Guide

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The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers is, at its core, the story of a man who experienced a moment of moral conscience that changed his life and changed a nation. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a leading Vietnam War strategist, discovered that the role of the United States in Vietnam was based on lies that spanned the terms of five presidents (Truman through Nixon). In a daring act of conscience, he leaked 7,000 pages of top-secret documents to The New York Times, several other newspapers and select political leaders. His actions played a major role in Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation, a precedent-setting Supreme Court case prohibiting prior restraint of journalists and, eventually, the end of the Vietnam War. As an outreach tool, this riveting account, told by Ellsberg and a who’s-who of Vietnam-era movers and shakers, raises questions about ethics, journalism, national security, the separation of powers, democracy and the legacy of government deception.

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