THE DAY THE PRESSES STOPPED by David Rudenstine

THE DAY THE PRESSES STOPPED

A History of the Pentagon Papers Chase
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Set to come out on the 25th anniversary of the New York Times's publication of the Pentagon Papers--the 7,000-page secret history of the government's Vietnam War decision-making commissioned by Robert S. McNamara in 1967--Rudenstine's book is a remarkable achievement. Law professor Rudenstine (Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School) has mined the primary and secondary sources, interviewed three dozen important players, and unearthed new evidence. The result: a very readable political narrative with scholarly analysis of the landmark case. The excerpts and analyses of the papers that ran in the New York Times represented the largest unauthorized disclosure of classified documents in American history. The Nixon administration's effort to stop the Times (and later the Washington Post) marked the first time in American history that the government had sued to prevent newspapers from disclosing information for national security reasons. District Judge Murray Gurfein's order to cease publishing the material in question was the first time an American judge had taken such action against a newspaper. This substantive book's value lies in the breadth of the narrative, the sharpness of Rudenstine's analyses of the case's legal aspects, and the author's surprising but persuasively argued conclusion that the papers ``contained information that could have seriously harmed national security if disclosed.'' The government was unable to convince a majority of the US Supreme Court of that fact. And, as Rudenstine points out, the newspapers did not publish anything that had a negative impact on peace talks or that compromised diplomatic initiatives outside Vietnam. The Supreme Court chose ``to risk the dangers inherent in a freer press because the alternative resolution--enhancing government power to censor the press--was even more threatening to a stable and vital democracy.'' Nothing less than the definitive account of the Pentagon Papers case. (37 b&w photographs)

Pub Date: June 13th, 1996
ISBN: 0-520-08672-4
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996




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