Most Dangerous

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Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

by Steve Sheinkin

May 2017

I dove into another non-fiction for my MOMS club book club, even though I couldn’t make it to our meeting. It was so highly recommended that I decided I had to read it. I’m a sucker for recommendations! Most Dangerous is a book on the Vietnam war; another topic that I didn’t think I’d be interested in. However, I loved Sheinkin’s book. His writing is phenomenal and I read the second half of the book in one night. He made this topic interesting and engaging, making me feel like I was reading a fiction. I’m so happy I read Most Dangerous and I’m looking forward to reading more books by Sheinkin!

The subtitle to Most Dangerous is: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War. For me, I really knew next to nothing about the Vietnam war, so it was fascinating to learn about it in general, as well as Ellsberg’s role specifically. I loved how Sheinkin told Ellsberg’s story, weaving in presidential and political history. He gave a broad context as well as interesting specifics. I couldn’t read fast enough. Spoilers: as a young man Daniel Ellsberg was heavily invested in the government and in supporting the Vietnam war, even going over there to report and see first hand what was happening. As the years passed, he changed his mind and views and staunchly opposed the war, going so far as to steal classified government documents and leak them to the press. He ended up in hiding for a while and then taken to court by the US government. Ultimately, as the government’s shady decisions and actions came to light, Ellsberg’s case was dropped and he was free to live his life. Ellsberg’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers changed the way we view the government and was the first case of its kind. It’s amazing thinking about the gravity of his actions and choice to share secret information that he felt should not be secret to the American public.

Summing it up: I loved this book and can’t recommend it highly enough!

All the best, Abbey

The First Phone Call From Heaven

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the first phone call from heaven

by Mitch Albom

March 2017

One of my good friends recommended the first phone call from heaven. She regularly gives me good recommendations, so I was excited to read it. This book was a roller coaster. It was engaging, interesting, and surprising. The writing was fantastic and the plot was quite original. This is the type of book that keeps you thinking long after you finish it.

In a small town of Michigan, people start getting mysterious phone calls from loved ones who have passed away. The calls are short, and sporadic, yet comforting. One woman who gets calls from her sister starts telling the whole town, while others keep their calls a secret. One man is so freaked out when he gets a call from a dead co-worker, he destroys his phone and leaves town. Some people are skeptical, some don’t hesitate to believe. Sully is particularly skeptical. His wife died tragically, leaving him with their young son. He’s recently gotten out of prison and is struggling to make sense of the calls and help his son, who desperately wants a call from his mother. The whole town soon gets into a tizzy and everything gets bigger when news reporters come to town. Spoilers: Sully is on a mission to prove the calls are false. He starts digging into it and what starts as seemingly harmless research, turns into a fast paced thriller. Sully is caught up in the action and in the end solves the mystery. A while back, Sully was an air force pilot. One day, he flew into his home town and was cleared to land when he collided with another plane that was also cleared to land. Sully was imprisoned for that when there was no proof he was cleared to land. The man in the control tower had cleared both planes and when he realized his mistake it was too late. In despair, he ran away and drove off, only to collided head on with Sully’s wife who was driving to the airport to meet Sully. She dies because of the crash. Meanwhile, the control man’s father, Horace, was on his way to talk to his son as they were estranged. He witnessed everything from the plane crash to car crash, and went to the tower to see that his son had caused everything. He got rid of the evidence and as a penance devised a scheme to give people phone calls from their loved ones in heaven. He created a system to gather old recordings of people’s voices and technology to create new conversations. Sully figures this out and confronts him in his lair in the outskirts of town. He is furious with the Horace’s audacity to create such a plot and leaves when Horace cuts off all power so Sully can’t ruin his work. Sully dives away determined to tell the truth to a reporter, but before he can, he gets a call from his wife who tells him not to tell the reporter. Sully knows it’s not really his wife, so turns around to give Horace a piece of his mind, but he’s too late, the police are already there. Turns out, Horace was dying of cancer and calls the police to come, only to be dead on their arrival. In a final twist, Sully finds out that the call from his wife came after the police heard from Horace. So, was the call from his wife real, or not? Ahhh! You never know! But it spurs Sully on to live his life fully. He never tells what he learned, so the full story never comes out, leaving people to think what they will.

Summing it up: I was so surprised that this book was a thriller! It was so good and I think about it even now. I definitely recommend it!

All the best, Abbey