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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an Authoritative Account, but a Lively Read, with More Insight Than the Authors Intended.
"Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy" is The Guardian's contribution to the narrative of Wikileaks that has emerged in the popular press since the release of "Cablegate" in December 2010. It is written primarily by The Guardian's investigations editor David Leigh and journalist Luke Harding, with a reasoned introduction by editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger...
Published on March 9, 2011 by mirasreviews

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77 of 96 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars saying more about the media world than the subject
As a member of the public who is following the Wikileaks drama (disinterested, but not dispassionate), I would like to say a few words about The Guardian journalists writings on Assange.

What one notices immediately is the general tone of these writings, not only devoid of any sympathy for the subject, but frankly bilious. Leaving you with an unpleasant taste...
Published on February 13, 2011 by Olga Fedina


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77 of 96 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars saying more about the media world than the subject, February 13, 2011
By 
Olga Fedina (Valencia, Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As a member of the public who is following the Wikileaks drama (disinterested, but not dispassionate), I would like to say a few words about The Guardian journalists writings on Assange.

What one notices immediately is the general tone of these writings, not only devoid of any sympathy for the subject, but frankly bilious. Leaving you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth, this tone makes you slightly suspicious as for the authors' motivations and impartiality. It would also disappoint anyone hoping to get an insight into the "enigmatic" Wikileak's founder's human qualities. In fact, the way Julian Assange is presented throughout the book is not as a human at all, but rather as some exotic animal who needs to be constantly "managed" (and is now caged and can be poked at safely). Those few little human interest details about his childhood and youth included in the book can be easily searched for on the Internet (where the authors probably found them).

More than characterising its subject, this book characterises the media world. You do not get any sense of gratitude or recognition from The Guardian for Wikileaks giving it the biggest news stories of the last few decades, on a scale unimaginable to the Guardian's team of "investigative journalists". (Taking on Jonathan Aitken is not quite the same as taking on the Pentagon and the US government). There is no gratitude either for Julian Assange's hard work in taking the physical risks and psychological pressure for getting those news stories out. There is no sense of solidarity with Wikileaks, the organisation that essentially is serving the same purpose as any good newspaper should serve: getting the truth out.

This book is in line with some of the Guardian's previous publications on Assange, such as the leaked details of the rape accusations, carefully selected for their graphic impact. As well as smacking badly of vindictiveness, that publication was well in line with the good old English tabloid media tradition of hypocritical voyeurism, where one is meant to shudder in horror ("Why, isn't this awful, dear?!") while indulging in minute investigation of someone's sexual (mis)behaviour. The editors' claims that it was the paper's duty to publish such material once it came into their hands is risible and will not deceive anyone.

No doubt I am being naïve here, but I cannot help but cringe at the violation of one of the basic school playground rules of fair play: you don't kick your mate when he is down. Not even a former mate.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Exploiting the Info, Selling Out the Provider, May 7, 2011
David Leigh for anyone who has followed the Wikileaks story is someone who has in rather despicable fashion exploited the mass of information provided by Julian Assange and Wikileaks for his personal and his newspaper's gain, while at the same time being very instrumental in denigrating both Assange, Wikileaks and indirectly (IF he is the source) Bradley Manning. For people who want a more truthful account follow the articles by Israel Shamir in "CounterPunch" for instance. Leigh like his fellow manipulator, exploiter, and denigrator, NYT editor Bill Keller, loves profiting from the information provided (at great personal risk, and with almost heroic efforts in the face of vicious, totalitarian, no-holds-barred persecution by authorities in the US Empire and its proconsular hangers on the EU and other countries, by Assange and Wikileaks). This book is simply the product of an author who started with those goals in mind. So it is nothing resembling either a true, fair, balanced, or factual account. It is an extended smear intended to benefit Leigh and the "Guardian" while selling Assange and Wikileaks down the river. Read John Pilger's assessments and accounts of David Leigh and this book as well to get a better idea of what is going on. Daniel Domscheit Berg is another similar sort of individual who has smeared Wikileaks and Assange with the same goal of pursuing personal profit and 'glory' at the expense of the group's enterprise.
Finally do NOT purchase the book from this site in any case, since they also were totally complicit in the totalitarian witch-hunt against Assange and Wikileaks, denying them hosting services, and therefore (like the financial companies) basically voluntarily acting in the illegal ways the US Empire requested of them.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an Authoritative Account, but a Lively Read, with More Insight Than the Authors Intended., March 9, 2011
"Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy" is The Guardian's contribution to the narrative of Wikileaks that has emerged in the popular press since the release of "Cablegate" in December 2010. It is written primarily by The Guardian's investigations editor David Leigh and journalist Luke Harding, with a reasoned introduction by editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger. Leigh claims that he and Harding wrote the book in 3 weeks, which makes them officially hacks, with all the breathless hyperbole and looseness with fact that the term implies. But I'm impressed. This is a page-turner and a very readable account of The Guardian's collaboration with Wikileaks and 4 other news agencies on the release of the Afghan and Iraq War Logs and the US State Department cables in 2010.

The authors begin with some background: sympathetic chapters on Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have leaked the data from the United States' SIPRNet, Julian Assange, and the evolution of Wikileaks, from the organization's first coup in 2007, when it published a report on Daniel Arap Moi's corruption in Kenya. Then it is to Norway, March 2010, when The Guardian had its first face-to-face contact with Assange. He showed David Leigh the Apache helicopter video that would later be known as "Collateral Murder". There is an exciting account of Nick Davies' meeting with Assange that produced the collaboration between Wikileaks, The Guardian, and, ultimately, other news agencies, leading to the global furor we are still experiencing 4 months after Cablegate.

There is a chapter on the incidents in Sweden that led to Julian Assange being pursued on suspicion of sex crimes, followed by The Guardian's version of the dispute that occurred between the paper and Assange when The Guardian received a second copy of the State Department cables from another source. Those 2 chapters stand out from the rest of the book in their tone and apparent purpose, but more on that later. Finally, there is a dramatic account of the amazing collaboration between The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais, The New York Times, and Wikileaks, a Herculean effort that the authors undoubtedly will not forget any time soon. I still detect residual adrenaline from the (botched) coordination of the release on 28 November.

Any account of the Wikileaks saga begs the question: Should we accept this version as authoritative? The short answer is: No. "Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy" is, first and foremost, a puff piece for The Guardian. Its goal is to cast that organization, its journalists, and its use of material supplied by Wikileaks in the best light possible. The book excels when it conveys the awe and excitement of the journalists in working with such an enormous cache of data in ways they had never before experienced. It's a little sloppy around the edges. There are some factual inaccuracies (e.g. the repeated assertion that Pfc. Manning had access to "top secret" information) and some misquotes, though I didn't find any that changed the meaning of the statement.

The chapters about Sweden and the dispute with Julian Assange over the publication of Cablegate are unique in that they are malicious toward Assange. The rest of the book is not. In fact, it paints a picture of Assange as an eccentric polymath and an astute strategist that is by no means unflattering. I obviously could not say what went on between Assange and The Guardian on the day he allegedly threatened to sue, but the authors omit the existence of a written agreement between them, in the form of a letter, I believe. And they quote extensively from the meeting without, I assume, the benefit of a recording. The purpose of the chapter entitled "Uneasy Partners" is to assert The Guardian's version of disputed events -at the expense of the other party, naturally.

The chapter on Sweden, entitled "The World's Most Famous Man", is sleazier and more complicated. The authors put a spin on events as recounted by the two Swedish complainants that does not exist in their statements to police. They accept the women's statements as gospel but never fail to preface any statement that would favor Assange with "Assange's lawyers claim", when his lawyers are, in fact, simply quoting witness statements from the Swedish police protocol. Ironically, by the authors' own account, the woman known as Miss W told two radically different versions of events to different people, but they don't point that out. They glibly dismiss the idea that the women's statements do not imply that any crime was committed, even under Swedish law.

But objectivity is not the authors' purpose. Their book is a compelling contribution to the Wikileaks narrative, not because it is accurate, but because it is an intriguing -and eminently readable- amalgamation of history, hyperbole, drama, self-promotion, self-defense, sensationalism, and name-calling. If I'm not mistaken, the authors malign Assange over his Swedish exploits in order to posit their own rather patronizing views of women as superior to those of the womanizing Australian. How amusing. Picking this book apart for all of its agendas is a project in itself, and one that I hope some historian will eventually undertake. It is valuable for its engaging glimpse behind-the-scenes at the Cablegate release, in particular, but also for capturing the many competing agendas that have developed around the representation of Wikileaks and Julian Assange in the media.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wikihypocrisy, September 28, 2011
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a self-congratulatory book by two Guardian journalists about the biggest leak of confidential government information in history brought about by two oddballs, an Australian called Julian Assange and an American serviceman called Bradley Manning.

These two characters managed to exploit the incompetence or complacency of the US military establishment by downloading hundreds of thousands of "secret" diplomatic messages onto pen drives and then publishing them on Assange's Wikileaks site and, in edited form, in some of the world's most famous publications, including the Guardian, NYT, Le Monde, Spiegel etc.

It certainly was an amazing feat and caused not only lots of problems for the American government but also for the journalists who found themselves confronted with the scoop of scoops.

There was so much information available that were they were not only unable to check its veracity but they did not have the resources to filter through it all and make sense of it for readers.

They also had to deal with Assange - who comes over as being a lot smarter than them - who has them dancing to his tune.

In the end, the Guardian - and the other papers - got their "scoops" and patted themselves on the back for exposing information that they, Assange and 22-year-old Manning (the "innocent" victim who is currently in prison unlike any of the others) felt the public should have.

The writers brush aside any idea that by publishing this information, they put anyone in danger. The Guardian editor claims that six months after the leaks "the sky has not fallen in".

I presume this means he believes no individuals in places like the Middle East have been identified and targeted as a result. That is something he and his conscience will have deal with.

His response to this criticism is so feeble as to be laughable, viz. that some entity should "fund some rigorous research by a serious academic institution about the balance between harms and benefits".

Will the Guardian be footing the bill for this "rigorous research"? I doubt it. Even if it did, no-one would take its findings seriously.

Maybe he is right and no-one was hurt but that sounds like wishful thinking.

Perhaps when the next megaleak of messages is published, we might learn that some people were identified and have suffered for speaking to US diplomats.

The book is marked by the anti-US sentiment one should expect from the Guardian. It is also spoiled by the fact that one of the writers - David Leigh - is presented in the third person as a character, as is the Guardian editor.

It must be great fun editing what you have written about yourself.

In conclusion, the very nature of the subject means that there are pages and pages of dull IT-type material on hackers and computer nerds that the general reader should skip. It is obvious that even the writers do not quite know what they are talking about.

The book is also spoiled by an appendix of almost 100 pages of selected leaks with headlines like "Maintaining P3 and P5 Unity" that are of no interest to the general reader and could have been presented as links if the writers thought they were so important.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's 1984 all over again!, May 5, 2014
By 
Wallace "UUallace" (Cin'ti, Ohio, EE UU) - See all my reviews
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It would be nice if there was a conclusion but it goes on and on after publishing. one two three
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wiki weak, December 19, 2013
This review is from: WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy (Kindle Edition)
In today’s “selfie” age, it’s not enough that the news is news but the process of getting the news has become news itself. But as fast as something has gone viral just as instantly does something fade away in the midst of the next information tid bit. Case in point: Wikileaks. This book is about Julian Assange the founder and spokesman of Wikileaks. The book is written by a journalist from the Guardian an established English newspaper company that cooperated with Wikileaks to publicize some of the US secret cables Wikileaks released. He writes from the third person and it was odd to see instances in the book where David Leigh came up in the third person instead of “I.”
What’s Good:
• Interesting background information behind Wikileaks including the motive and ideology that drove Assange and Private Manning.
• Reveals the back story of the relationship of the mainstream media with Wikileaks
• Honesty of the author’s portrait of Assange, warts and all. One gets the sense that this guy is an egomanic, self-important, undisciplined, unhygienic, paranoid man yet an opportunist, tries to speak out against oppressors, etc.
• Gives us more background to the rape accusation against Assange and also his reluctant confession that it was not a CIA love nest sting.
What’s Bad:
• Sometimes the book overstretch its claim of US military wrong doing in Iraq and Afghanistan uncovered by Wikileaks and at the end of the day, it definitely was not the bombshell that some were expecting it to be.
• Anti-climatic ending of the major news organizations who secretly cooperated with Wikileaks rushing to published stories from the cables. It was so anti-climatic to an interesting topic.
• Redundant feel when the book summarizes something and then quotes the document or online chat using the same words and phrase.
Reflection
I believe our current government has too many secrets and a healthy republic require a more transparent and open government if it’s going to ever be accountable to the people. To that end, I sympathize with Wikileaks even though we are probably coming from a different political spectrum. I’m surprised at how immature both Manning and Assange could get and yet one gets the feeling that one has met such characters before in one’s own life people like Manning and Assange. They are more of a cross section of guys in this generation more than perhaps the author realized. I find Assange as a person to be quite repulsive: the author did a good job filling in the details of one of the accuser against Assange for being sexually wronged by him. Assange is a guy that doesn’t know how to handle women and handle them roughly. I thought the book in telling the story of Assange and Manning could have noted more explicitly the blatant ironies of the two of them. For instance, Assange is strongly for all information to be public—yet ironically, he react strongly against certain information about himself being made public. He says there’s people out there who are ought to smear him from the US government but he goes ahead and smears the women’s reputation and deliberately lies about them and their ideology. Assange runs an organization that has the name “leak” in it but strongly disapproves and threatens editors of the press for acquiring leaks from his own Wikileaks. He even said leaks of the stolen US government cables from Wikileaks is criminal. Oh the irony. It’s very hard to live a consistent worldview that’s reductionistic.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the time, April 9, 2013
I was greatly disappointed with this book. I was hoping to learn more about Assange rather than patently-slanted gossip.

To me, the most remarkable thing about the book (the part which I read) was the ill-concealed contempt, jealousy, vindictiveness which the authors harbored for Assange.

I put the book down before finishing the first chapter. It was so bad that it wasn't worth my time to carry on. The writing wasn't good - slapdash, as though the editor had told these guys to stuff something together with no perceptive thought - only the cut and paste functions of their computers.

As another reviewer commented: it was odd coming from an organization that had benefited so much from its association with the subject.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Highly Disappointed, September 3, 2011
What happens when the means do not justify the ends?

Great, you made some money, The Guardian, who cares what it took to get there.

Publishing the key was risky and highly inappropriate.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Julian Assange From The Viewpoint Of The Guardian, March 22, 2011
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This book is written by the Guardian reporters who had the most contact with Julian Assange. They even put him up on occasion. They dined with him often and dealt with him on a continuing basis. They were the ones to "find" him and set up the publication of Wikileaks materials in the main stream media. Therefore this book is about the first hand information they acquired about Assange. However it was written after a break in relations for what that is worth.

It is an analysis of Assange his motivations and the importance of his materials. They were the ones that analysed the Bradley Manning cables and published articles putting them in perspective. With out the Guardian reporters probably Assange would not have the entre on to the World's stage that happened. The book contains an appendix of some of the more important cables.

The book is not a character assassination. It does put the whole matter into perspective from the Guardians point of view. It is worth reading.

However the story is not over. There is the trial of Bradley Manning and the possibility Assange may be indicted or unindicted as a co-conspiritor. The matter in Sweden has also not run its course. Also the US has not officially charged Assange with a crime and has not sought his extradition from either the United Kingdom or possibly Sweden in the future.

Why it would be easier to extradite him from Sweden than the UK is not explained. It may be that any indictment needs Bradley Manning to testify he was a conspiritor because publication alone might not be a crime. Also is posting on the internet entitled to the 1st Amendment rights of publishers and reporters? Is the Huffington Post entiled to the same rights as the NY Times? I gave the book four stars because because of the objectivity problem.
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9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history of WikiLeaks, February 13, 2011
This is a very good history of WikiLeaks. Having studied WikiLeaks very closely previously, there wasn't a treasure trove of new stuff in there for me, but it covered most of the general interest important topics. Part of this opinion is based upon a comparison to the New York Times e-book that came out within the same week. It consisted of a collection of articles referencing the leaked diplomatic cables (called CableGate by the Guardian), appendices with some of the cables, op-eds about WikiLeaks, and a new introduction by Bill Keller that was first published in the Times to publicize the book. The results were atrocious. The Keller piece is slanderous to Assange, while attempting to elicit praise for the NYT. WikiLeaks represents a change to the status quo, an international and non-corporate interference into the business of information. The NYT is trying to bring things back into control, they say Assange is just a source, and they have announced the opening of their own whistleblower web-site. Yay. The first article shown reports that Iran purchased scary new missiles from N Korea. It doesn't pay much attention to the fact that the real meat of the cable is about how Russia's intelligence counterparts completely disagree and believe that the missile under discussion doesn't even exist, and afterwards several publications and outside experts agreed. Also in the article they mention that another missile can reach Isreal and even Europe. Russia disagrees on the distance, but both agree that this other missile could never be used for offensive military strikes. Its just to weak to carry explosives. But the Times doesn't mention this, preferring to stoke a possible military engagement with Iran. The op-eds relate only to elite musings on the impact WL can have on US interests. Elites caring only about elites. The Guardian's book is very fair, painting Assange in much more subtle tones. He is believably described as somewhat volatile by the standards of those in the newspaper business. After all, in order to become a top person in these businesses you need to conform to certain social norms, and internalize the rules of the trade. The trade is largely what WL is trying to disrupt, and Assange is certainly something of a rebel. But they are very fair, and definitely have an admiration, if cautiously, for Assange. Unlike the NYT, that complains that he is manipulative, strange, they even say he didn't small good one day, that he looked like a bag lady off the street, and then mock him for dressing nicely once he appeared on international tv, as if he was pulling the wool over everyones eyes for preparing for the cameras. The Guardian goes through the history of WL, touching on the importance of the big leaks, and the Sweden drama, without overemphasizing this stuff and deterring from the actual significance of WL. For those that have followed WL closely, this is not likely to have any big surprises, but for me it was still compelling, pulling all of the general narratives loose strands into one solid book. For those that are less aware, this read will give you a very solid grounding into the story. Nothing amazing, no deeply insightful analysis about the bigger questions that WL raises, but a good start.
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