Clarifying History

September 2023
Barbara Koeppel

George Perkovich’s essay (Daniel Ellsberg: In Memoriam, July/August 2023) is terrific and raises points one doesn’t often read or hear.

But there is one small point he should know: Dan told me (we were close friends for 31 years) that on the drive from Detroit to Denver, where the accident occurred, Dan’s father told his mother he needed to pull over for a quick rest, since he was falling asleep at the wheel. His mother didn’t want to be late for a party her brother was hosting in Denver (where he lived), so she told him to keep driving—not to stop and rest. The result is history: His father fell asleep, hit an embankment and his sister and mother, in the front seat, were thrown from the car and died immediately. Dan only remembers waking up in a hospital, in a large cast. I’m aware that in his book, Dan says he didn’t trust adults because his father fell asleep at the wheel. But in fact, the story is more complicated.

Barbara Koeppel is a Washington, D.C.-based investigative reporter who writes on social, economic, and military issues.