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The Pentagon Papers

Senator Mike Gravel

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Late in June 1971, when the Federal Government had succeeded in delaying the publication of even newspaper synopses and brief excerpts from the secret Pentagon Papers, Senator Mike Gravel convened a special meeting of his subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds. The Senator had recently received 4,100 pages of the Papers, and on the night of June 29th, at that extraordinary meeeting, he entered them into the official record of the subcommittee.

That record is being published here for the first time, in order that the American public can have access to the full story of American involvement in Vietnam from the early 1940s to March of 1998.

The Pentagon Papers reveal the inner workings of a bureaucracy, set up to defend this country, but now managing an international empire by garrisoning American troops around the world. The papers show that it has created regimes, made secret commitments, toppled governments, and kept from the American people the true facts and its real intentions.

As Senator Gravel states in his introduction, "If there was ever a time for change, it is now. It is in this spirit that I hope the past, as revealed in the Pentagon Papers, will help us make a new beginning, toward that better America, which we all seek"

The following is Copyright © 1996, 1997 Edwin E. Moïse; visit his excellent Vietnam Bibliography site at

The complete set of the Senator Gravel Edition contains four volumes of material from the original study, plus one volume of commentary and index. It is the portion made public by U.S. Senator Gravel, and is often called the "Senator Gravel Edition." Senator Gravel was in a great hurry when selecting material for this edition, and some of his choices were rather haphazard. However, this edition contains the complete texts of a number of crucial documents from the period Johnson was president, which were omitted from the version published by the U.S. government.

Nobody has ever published the whole collection as it was originally compiled inside the Defense Department; a long and detailed history of U.S. policy toward Vietnam from 1945 to about March of 1968, plus about 4,000 pages of the actual texts of some of the most important documents dealing with Vietnam found in Defense Department files. Only partial versions have been released to the public. There are copies of the original complete text locked away in the classified vaults at the LBJ Presidential Library, and presumably other locations. The original study had endnotes citing sources. The first of the published editions cited below still has the numbers in the text for the endnotes, but the actual notes have not been included in any of the published editions. A number of pages of the endnotes were declassifed several years ago thanks to the efforts of William C. Gibbons, and they are now available in the reading room at the LBJ Presidential Library.

PLEASE NOTE: These volumes are no longer available from Beacon Press.

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