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WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy Paperback – Bargain Price, February 15, 2011
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It doesn't make the story itself bad, it is a good story with a lot of cruft.
But the story itself it's about Wikileaks, from its inception to the release of the so called Cablegate -- the release of several diplomatic cables. Actually, Wikileaks is just the background story here; the whole action is more about how The Guardian dealt with Assange and the other publishing partners than Wikileaks itself.
It's not a bad story, even with the abundance of words. There are a lot of forgotten elements -- like the story behind Manning and his leaking -- which tend to be completely ignored at this point. But, again, there are too many unnecessary words that go nowhere. Prepare to get annoyed about the continuous mention of the some cable over and over again -- and see the said cable in its complete form in the end.
(Why I'm mentioning this? 'Cause the book makes a huge deal of how several cables affected international politics, but keep mentioning the same three cables over and over again. I mean, if several where that important, why are the same three mentioned so many times?)
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.
21 March 2017
Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy Book Review
The story of a boy who grew up without a father figure in his life to take on a Goliath would seem to be one that is only written in a studio in Los Angeles. One such story happened. Julian Assange’s eventful life story and the story of his most famous work wikileaks is detailed in David Leigh’s and Luke Harding’s Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy.
Assange was born in Australia to a single mother, he and his mother moved around a lot when they were in his youth. There was not a lot of stability in Julian’s early life however one place he would find solace was in computers. He became a well known hacker in Australia’s underground hacking community. Under then alias Mendax he became a hacking guru honing skills he would use later in life. In 2006 Julian created the website he would be most famous for Wikileaks.org. On wikileaks he would go on to infiltrate the secrets of the worlds governments and seek to release it to the world. This is where Bradley Manning comes into play. Bradley was a member of the United States Army who released state secrets of the war to Julian Assange and wikileaks. Assange was able to get his hands on a video of an apache helicopter manned by US soldiers shooting and civilians. Assange hoped to video would spark massive international outrage however this did not happen quite how he expected however it would happen a little bit later. With the information Manning provided Assange was able to release both the Iraq war logs and the Afghan war logs. These logs detailed the atrocities committed by the coalition forces particularly of the United States in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In an attempt to help get this information out to the world Assange met with the journalists from world famous newspapers from major nations, he met with the Guardian and wanted both the New York Times and Der Spiegel to be involved as well. Then the papers had to coordinate how to get the information from Assange, then they needed to figure out how to sift through the information and then coordinate release dates and appease Assanges wishes as to what kind of light be shined on the information. The book then goes on to detail how the nations of the world regarded Assange and the whole wikileaks organization as a sort of cyber terrorist as they were being massive whistleblowers on their secrets. Assange was also accused of rape when he was in Sweden and this created an opportunity to attack his character and dissect the man running the organization and it created turmoil within causing his number two to quit. Later on wikileaks in coordination with the news organizations they released Cables, which was regarded as the biggest intelligence leak in history. The governments of the world universally attacked Assange and were calling for his trail. Julian Assange eventually was called for trial in the United Kingdom and with a host of wealthy celebrity fans like Michael Moore he made bail and is now in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The book really engages you in a thought exercise in the morality of the wikileaks movement as a whole. Where is the line between public knowledge and securing state secrets? Should a state even have secrets? Do we even want to know? The myriad of questions the book raises is truly mind-boggling. The one that particularly puzzled me throughout was the morality of the issue. Especially given how people were hurt by the leaked information and was the knowledge worth endangering their lives. People who were particularly at risk to being hurt by the leak were informants, but Assange didn’t care because they were informants and they deserved it (Leigh Harding 111). To be fair to Assange he did later on flip-flop on that idea and understood the necessity of protecting people but it is still too late if he could have prevented putting people in harm by simply redacting the name and Assange refused. That’s just reckless. The authors make the readers think about these deeper questions. The book does not necessarily tell us what to think about it they do not go on and on about how Assange had to do what he did, rather they leave it for us to figure out.
An interesting thing to think about regarding the book is how far globalization has come. It shows an online hacking website working together with major news outlets from five nations written in four different languages to expose dozens upon dozens of nations for their activities. Wikileaks was only able to be as successful as it was in its goal because it was so accessible to people. Globalization, which so many nations like the united states pushed for, has backfired on them as transparency has pushed back.
The Julian Assange story seems incredibly unlikely, for a son of a single Australian mother to end up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the US because he exposed the state secrets of the US. Yet it has changed the planet forever. The consequences of his actions are far reaching. The world could see the US imprison perhaps even bring the death penalty to a foreign journalist for his publications. The ripple effect that could cause as a legal precedent would be almost unfathomable. Wikileaks has also shown the world how powerful hackers can be and what other organizations like Anonymous could do to shake up the world. If nothing else Assange has sparked a conversation about transparency versus state secrets.
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