Sonoma Speaker Series: In Conversation with Daniel Ellsberg
In Conversation with Daniel Ellsberg: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine
It’s arguable that no man had a greater influence on the American perception of the war in Vietnam than Daniel Ellsberg. He was a consummate insider, served as a Marine First Lieutenant after graduating from Harvard, later returned to Harvard and wrote what is widely regarded as a brilliant dissertation on decision theory. In 1964 he went to work for the Pentagon under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. He then went to Vietnam for 2 years working in the State Department for General Edward Lansdale. In 1967 he joined the Rand Corporation and contributed to a top secret history of the conduct of the war in Vietnam. Commissioned by none other than Secretary McNamara, that history became known as the Pentagon Papers, the release of which played a central role in bringing an end to the Vietnam War and the Nixon presidency as well.
Now Ellsberg has written a new book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, based on his experiences at the Rand Corporation. The New York Times says this about the book: “By employing personal stories from his time in the 1950s and 1960s working alongside (Herman) Kahn and other “wizards of Armageddon” at the RAND Corporation and as a consultant at the Pentagon, he makes hard-to-believe truths more credible.”