Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Non-Fiction: WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding

In the autumn of 2010, a media event occurred that, over the fullness of time, will likely alter the course of history when an avalanche of previously secret diplomatic documents were released on an unsuspecting public. Unsuspecting and unprepared, really. We weren’t, as a culture, ready for WikiLeaks. And some of us still aren’t quite sure what hit us (though most of us have some sort of opinion).

WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy (PublicAffairs) changes that lack of understanding. Written by a brace of Guardian reporters, in the UK, the book is in fact published by the Guardian newspaper. These things contribute to making WikiLeaks the definitive book to the WikiLeaks matter, because, as the book shows, the Guardian’s team was so far inside the matter, they were pretty much a part of it to the point where Julian Assange for a while hid out at co-author David Leigh’s house. Even so, their assessments seem, at most times, quite even-handed.
The media and public were torn between those who saw Assanage as a new kind of cyber-messiah and those who regarded him as a James Bond villain. Each extremity projected on to him superhuman powers of good or evil.
If the WikiLeaks storm took you with surprise and left you with unanswered questions, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy will come close to answering them. At the same time, it delivers a riveting portrait of the culture and personalities that made the WikiLeaks matter not only possible, but perhaps inevitable. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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