Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, from the Guardian‘s David Leigh and Luke Harding, reads like a James Bond story. And the authors do not overstate the drama of the Wikileaks imbroglio. The world and activities of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks organization, and the association with the Guardian and other notable media outlets constitutes just a pitch-perfect thriller.
Leigh and Harding even acknowledge the awkward humor of hackers seated around a table in an English country estate, Assange’s nomadic lifestyle and monkish clothing choices, and the fact that Bradley Manning, the alleged Afghanistan and Iraq War Log leaker, wrote all the classified data to a CD labeled “Lady Gaga.”
The hacker-thriller theme of the book may or may not be accidental. But it helps the reader plow through the more troublesome features of the book, like the full text of the Afghanistan War logs or Manning’s instant message chats with hacker Adrian Lamo — the man who eventually outed Manning to authorities.
Wikileaks conjures up the perfect combination of delicious novel and gritty non-fiction.
Leigh and Harding begin with texture-rich portraits of the Norfolk estate, owned by Frontline Club proprietor Vaughan Smith, to which Assange is still confined. In the forebodingly named first chapter “The Hunt,” Leigh and Harding make brilliant parallel comparisons to the exotic animal heads hung on the stone walls of the estate and Assange’s own status as the prey of American and Swedish officials.
Wikileaks continues with real characters who seem reserved for Steig Larssons’s Millennium Series, a trilogy even Leigh and Harding refer to in text as an appropriate analog to their own work. Assange is referred to as “ascetic”; Manning is portrayed as fractured but brilliant; and the host of other characters seem tailored for a future biopic.
With all the Bond-esque themes and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo events, Wikileaks still includes critical insight into a series of events likely to change the world.