On Sunday June 13, 1971, a story was published on the front page of the New York Times under a three-column headline: “Vietnam Archive: Study Traces 3 Decades of Growing U.S. Involvement.” I thought it was the most boring headline I had ever read; no one would read this article.

It was the first installment of the series of articles that became known as the Pentagon Papers. When we published it, my colleagues at the Times and I had been expecting all hell to break loose. It was the first article in a planned series based on leaked Defense Department documents showing decades of deception and duplicity: how the American people had been misled about our involvement in Vietnam. But with this boring headline, I wondered if all our expectations of a huge explosion following publication would be wrong. All that day, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it didn’t.

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