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. May be by June 2011 and with no end in sight to his possible extradition to Sweden to answer charges of two cases of sexual assault, Assange had been legally advised that it would be unwise for him to endorse this book. My speculation on this point is based on the fact that there are several pages towards the end of the book, which give Assange's side of events regarding the two Swedish women who have alleged that he sexually assaulted them.
Did the book satisfy my objective in reading it? YES
So did this book fulfill my requirement to learn what makes this man tick? Yes, it has. I found it an engrossing and an intelligent read, which I hope is a true representation of Assange's thoughts and `inner workings' as told during the copious interviews he gave. Whether it is or not we will not know until when, or if, Assange produces his own self-written autobiography. I am hoping that the un-subtle and implied, not overt comparison of Assange to Christ being betrayed by the twelve good men of the Guardian and the New York Times is not something that Assange himself would have written.
Brief resume of Assange's background
The key to Assange lies firstly and predominantly in his childhood, much lived until the age of sixteen, on the run across the length and breadth of Australia fleeing from the clutches of his mother's former unhinged lover. At sixteen Assange confronted his mother's pursuer which brought an end to their peripatetic lifestyle. Crucially at the time when he and his mother and step brother put down roots in one place Assange saw his first computer in a shop. The rest, as they say is history. As an adult Assange has led an often nomadic life living out of a rucksack, hopping from one country to another. His mother and step-father, from whom he takes his name, were small time activists in 1970s Australia and this laid seeds within Assange of seeking fairness and distinquishing right from wrong and exposing the bad guys.
Brief discussion regarding Assange's long-term legacy.
If you like Assange is the modern day Robin Hood, not redistributing money, (for which he has no interest) but information, keeping the world's public informed of what their governments and military forces are really getting up to. There is no doubt about it that there have been significant ramifications of all of this leaked information, some of which is reproduced as appendices to the book. No doubt too, in my mind, on the basis of reading this book, that the powers that be, for this read America and Britain, wish for him to be silenced. But I do question what the long-term positive effects of all this exposure will be seen to be. As the book says, there has been much apathy to be fought through before some of the leaked documents have been picked up by the world's media. The apathy of the general public should not be overlooked either. There is some shock at the time of the release but then the vast majority simply turn their gaze back on the machinations of their own lives.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is curious about Assange.
My apologies for having written so much, but there is nothing straight forward about Assange's life, which I find thought provoking.