Skip to content

Unraveling the Secrets of "The Most Dangerous Man in America"

A riveting exploration of the Pentagon Papers leak and its impact on American history, "The Most Dangerous Man in America" is a compelling testament to the power of truth and the courage of whistleblowers.

Keywords: Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers, Vietnam War, whistleblowing, political scandal, press freedom. Three words: Informative, Thought-provoking, Historical


"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is a powerful documentary directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. Released in 2009, it delves into the life and actions of Daniel Ellsberg, a Pentagon insider who leaked classified documents that altered the course of American history.


In 1971, Ellsberg, a key strategist for the Vietnam War, exposes the U.S. government's deceptions about its involvement in the war. He leaks 7,000 pages of top-secret documents, known as the Pentagon Papers, to The New York Times and The Washington Post. This daring act leads to Watergate, President Nixon's resignation, the end of the Vietnam War, and a landmark Supreme Court ruling on press freedom.

More Film Analysis


"The Most Dangerous Man in America" uses a combination of in-depth interviews, archival footage, and dramatic reenactments to tell a compelling story. It offers a detailed exploration of Ellsberg's journey from being a government insider to a whistleblower, challenging viewers to question their understanding of patriotism and morality.

Historical and Factual Context

The documentary provides a comprehensive look at the political and social climate of the 1970s, a tumultuous time marked by the Vietnam War and immense civil unrest. It sheds light on the government's misleading narratives about the war and the role of the media in unveiling the truth.

Key themes in the film

  • Whistleblowing and its consequences
  • The power of the press
  • Government transparency and accountability
  • The ethics of war

Film Comparisons

"The Most Dangerous Man in America" can be compared to other political documentaries like "All the President's Men" and "The Post". However, it offers a unique perspective from inside the government, highlighting the moral dilemmas faced by those who choose to expose the truth.

Noteworthy Moments

One significant moment in the documentary is when Ellsberg decides to leak the Pentagon Papers, marking a turning point in his life and American history. Another is the Supreme Court ruling on the right of the press to publish the leaked documents, reaffirming the importance of a free press in a democratic society.


This documentary was well-received by critics and audiences alike. "A gripping story of moral courage and determination," says The New York Times. According to The Guardian, "It's a real-life thriller with profound implications for press freedom."


"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is a must-see for anyone interested in American history, politics, or journalism. It offers a compelling exploration of how one person's actions can change the course of history.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7.7/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
  • Metacritic score: 87
  • Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards



  • Daniel Ellsberg: The Pentagon insider who became a whistleblower
  • Richard Nixon: The U.S. President forced to resign in the aftermath of the Pentagon Papers leak
  • Henry Kissinger: National Security Advisor who labeled Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America"



  • The Pentagon: Where Ellsberg worked and obtained the classified documents
  • The New York Times and The Washington Post: The newspapers that published the Pentagon Papers

Key Questions Raised by the Film:

  • What motivates whistleblowers to risk their careers and freedom for the truth?
  • How can the media hold powerful institutions accountable?
  • How has the Pentagon Papers leak impacted government transparency and press freedom?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
  1. If this film was a famous book, which one would it be? "1984" by George Orwell, for its exploration of government deception.
  2. If this film was a famous song, which one would it be? "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan, for its questioning of war and freedom.
  3. If this film was a famous piece of art, which one would it be? "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso, for its depiction of the horrors of war.
  4. If this film was a famous celebrity, who would it be? Edward Snowden, for his similar role as a whistleblower.
  5. If this film was a color, which one would it be? Grey, for its portrayal of the moral ambiguities of war and whistleblowing.
  6. If this film was a music style, which one would it be? Protest folk, for its critique of government actions and call for change.

Watch The Most Dangerous Man in America - Streaming Online | iwonder (Free Trial)
In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Vietnam War strategist, concluded that the war was based on lies and leaked top secret documents to the press. Hailed as a hero, vilified as a traitor, and ostracized by even his closest colleagues, Ellsberg risked life in prison to stop a war he helped plan. T…