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Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography Paperback – 22 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; Export/Airside - Export/Airside/Ireland edition (22 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857863851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857863850
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


`An extraordinary story, lovely writing and a weirdo hero - what's not to like? An engrossing read.' --INDEPENDENT

`Beautifully textured . . . There is something special about him: a scrappiness, a chippiness, a kind of brilliance. Whatever his doubts, he is well served by this book.' --THE TIMES

'It is not hard to see why the WikiLeaker turned so coy. The book, written from interviews with him, reveals an extraordinary character, both inspiring and deeply flawed, who turns on those who fail to see things his way.'

About the Author

Julian Assange is the editor in chief of WikiLeaks. In 2010 he won Time magazine's 'Reader's Choice Person of the Year' poll and the Sydney Peace Prize, and was named Le Monde's 'Man of the Year'. He has also been awarded the Amnesty International 'UK Media Award' and the Sam Adams Award for 'Integrity in Intelligence'. In February 2011, his organisation, WikiLeaks, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after publishing three of the biggest leaks of classified information in history: the Afghan War Diaries, the Iraq War Logs and Cablegate.

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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By JSFF on 26 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover
Because of the controversial circumstances around the publication, I was in two minds about ordering this book. Having read it, I can say that I made the right decision. Despite its somewhat fragmentary nature, the book contains many beautifully written passages which create a vivid picture of a man on a mission to make the world a better - a more just - place.

Often forthright, occasionally blunt, but tempered with refreshingly self-deprecating humour, the book traces the life and development of Julian Assange (and Wikileaks) up to the Cablegate release. It paints a portrait not of a nihilistic anti-Western fanatic, but of somebody who believes passionately that humans have both a duty and the ability to create positive change in the world. The protagonist doesn't emerge as a flawless character, but many of the misrepresentations rife in media portraits of Assange and his organization are addressed in the book (e.g. Wikileaks' supposed anti-American agenda).

I hope that one day we will be treated to a fully developed (properly spell-checked) version of this book (although I am not holding my breath). If you have any interest in Wikileaks, the book is highly recommended.

*EDIT: I stand by my review and 5-star rating, but as more details of the seemingly underhand tactics involved in the publication process are emerging, I can no longer recommend the book for purchase. I suggest you borrow it from a library.*
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sally Walker on 5 Sep 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My motivation in reading this book

After Julian's recent balcony appearance, and in particular his reference to his children, I had the immediate thought that I wanted to find out much more about him. I never had Julian Assange down as being a father; I was instantly curious to know about his life and what makes him tick, etc. I went in search of books and ordered three. This is the first of the three that I have read.

Background to the controversial publication of this book

Like all things in Julian Assange's life the publication of this book is controversial. The publishers, Canongate, tell in a note at the beginning of this book that they had entered into a contract with Assange on 20th December 2010 for him to write, via a ghost writer, his life story. He signed this contract just days after the bail money from his supporters came through and he was released from Wandsworth Prison. He was then held under house arrest wearing an electronic tag in Ellingham Hall, Norfolk. On 7th June 2011 Assange told Canongate that he wished to cancel his contract. However, he did not return his advance, having already used it to help pay his legal expenses. Canongate took the view, in light of this, that the contract remained extant and decided to publish the book anyway.

This book then is the first draft of ghost written account of Julian Assange's life, written in the first person and based on fifty hours of interviews of Assange. Assange, we are informed, read this first draft in March 2011 and pronounced that "All memoir is prostitution." However, Canongate advise that he did say that the book was well written. I concur.
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By Clare O'Beara TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Jun 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a good read, showing us how this extraordinary man and body of works, is the sum of the upbringing and interests and choices made throughout his life and before it began.

The publishers state at the outset that the author spoke with a ghost author and made tapes for many hours, before deciding as the book was being prepared, with hefty pre-sales and with his advance cheque paid over by him to his lawyers, that he'd rather not publish an autobiography. That would seem rather late in the day to get modest. Honouring their written contract, the publishers went ahead and produced the book - rightly, I would say.

Assange is Australian, from a free-spirit mother who met his father at a civil rights rally and who married his stepfather a few years later. Both men have played a part in his life though he did not meet his father until he was grown. While the author never seems to have held down a steady job, and lived in squats, he nevertheless was able to study subjects of his choosing including quantum physics at university after a mediocre school result. That has to say something in favour of Australia's opportunities, though he doesn't acknowledge them.

The early years of hacking are the best described as young teens played with basic computers, learning to write code and via a modem, to phone in to early bulletin boards and exchange messages on how to explore with their box of circuits and wires. This became obsessive in some cases and the kids were wandering around inside major firms, government and army systems which were poorly secured at that time.

The later years are more full of personal anger and attacks on major players in the world trouble zones, as well as on supposed colleagues who let the author down at times.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written, engaging. Didactic. He explains difficult things very clearly, he is articulate. His story of his childhood and early youth is terrific.
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