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David Rudenstine effectively captures the day-by-day drama of the Nixon administration's efforts in 1971 to prohibit the ""New York Times"" and the ""Washington Post"" from publishing the 7000-page, top-secret Pentagon Papers. Rudenstine originally shared the dominant historical view that the government's position fell far short of satisfying the ""heavy burden"" the law required if the courts were to permanently restrain publication. But after studying previously classified documents and interviewing key participants in the controversy, including Robert MacNamara, Clark Clifford, William Rehnquist, Katherine Graham, and Daniel Ellsberg, Rudenstine changed his mind.;The Pentagon Papers did contain information potentially harmful to US security, says Rudenstine, and the government was forced to sue in order to gain time to assess the degree of harm that publication might cause. Although he supports the newspapers' victory in the case, he argues that the question of the government's need to keep some information confidential and the public's interest in being informed was more difficult to resolve than has been generally recognized. He also places the Papers controversy in a political context that goes beyond America's involvement in Vietnam, maintaining that this crucial event led to Watergate and President Nixon's eventual resignation.;Rudenstine sees this case as a crucible for testing many elements essential to democratic institutions. Ironically, he says, it reveals that much of a democracy's vitality can depend on two institutions that are not in any strict sense accountable from a political perspective: the press and the courts.