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Julian Assange's Unauthorized Autobiography 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the unleash-the-biography dept.
macwhizkid writes "After signing a major book deal for his autobiography, Julian Assange backed out (allegedly worrying about self-incrimination) but failed to return his £500,000 advance payment. The publisher is understandably unhappy with this outcome, and intends to publish the 'world's first unauthorized autobiography' from an early draft Assange submitted. The book will be in stores tomorrow, but I'm still hoping it'll be published early on WikiLeaks..."
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Julian Assange's Unauthorized Autobiography

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:04PM (#37471972)

    I knew that strange woman at my door wanting sex must be into me because I'm totally hot, not because it was any kind of setup. You see, the Julinator is really smart that way. And the Julinator trusts his intuition. She was so into me that she stole my laptop later that night as a souvenir of an awesome night when I rocked her world. That's just the kind of impression the Julinator makes. Besides those CIA types are all guys, right? The Julinator learned that from those Jack Ryan movies.

    Hey, why is my lawyer calling at this hour?

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Man. I'm not sure why the spooks haven't just capped Assange yet, but I'm glad they haven't. This dude is more entertaining than Mike Tyson on crack.

      • by jdpars (1480913)
        He seems like a fun crazy to let roam. Mostly harmless.
      • by horza (87255)

        Why would they assassinate Assange? He's not actually leaking the information, only publishing from anonymous sources. His murder wouldn't actually solve any of their problems, just push them elsewhere.

        Phillip.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          he's the one convincing people to leak

          pop off the head, and the rest would be less likely to follow in his footsteps

      • Because he's a narcissistic figurehead and generally impotent, The spooks are having more fun figuring out who of the underlings present the more credible threat. The spooks will probably use monitoring Assange as a training exercise to break in newbies.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          he neutered himself with the sex-crime thing

          they probably would have dropped him in the north atlantic if he hadn't done that

    • "Assange touched my pussy," claims ex-WikiLeaker [thinq.co.uk]:

      ...the "mad Australian" let nothing get in the way of his quest for mastery. Not even a feline.

      "Julian was constantly battling for dominance, even with my tomcat Herr Schmitt," says the German.

      "Ever since Julian lived with me in Wiesbaden he (the cat) has suffered from psychosis. Julian would constantly attack the animal. He would spread out his fingers like a fork and grab the cat's throat.

      (and let me just note that - with such violence against cats - Assange crossed the line, broke all limits, as far as I am concerned)

      • by cHiphead (17854)

        thatll teach that cat to try and steal his soul.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Would you still feel that way if I told you the Herr Schmitt was secretly a former Nazi SS cat?

        • by wwphx (225607)
          If he was indeed a Nazi SS cat, then THEIR GENETICS PROGRAMS WORKED! That cat is like 70 years old!
  • Drupal (Score:3, Funny)

    by cornface (900179) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:05PM (#37471982)

    Packt Publishing presents: Julian Assange's Drupal Made Easy

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And since it's from packt it'll be on drupal 6.

      • by Seumas (6865)

        And be riddled with errors - grammatical, spelling, and technical.

    • It'll get 8/10 in a slashdot review even if it doesn't exist.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Assange So Paranoid Even His Autobiography Is Unauthorized"

  • This seems funny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad...arnett@@@notforhire...org> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:09PM (#37472030)
    If someone backs out on a contract with you, you don't just take what you have and say "oh well, we'll do with what we have." You hit them with breach of contract and get your money back. I wonder if he and the publisher had this planned from the get-go to put plausible deniability on the book.
    • by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:14PM (#37472086) Journal

      Maybe the publisher feels they stand to profit more by publishing the now controversial book, based on what they've already got?

      If they sued over breach of contract, sure - they could try to get their money back, but as we all know, court judgments are FAR from a guarantee of getting repaid. With a character like Assange, perhaps they think it's a FAR better bet to take a chance on making money from his rough draft they possess than by counting on the court system to make him cough up the money?

      • Parent is probably correct -- Julian will have trouble coming up with the money now and with his legal troubles they aren't likely to get the advance back anytime in the near-future. Also, even if it was a draft they probably have slipped in a editor (i.e., ghost-author) to 'clean things up' and embellish to their hearts-delight.
        • by Raenex (947668)

          Also, even if it was a draft they probably have slipped in a editor (i.e., ghost-author) to 'clean things up' and embellish to their hearts-delight.

          The article states is was ghost-written by Andrew O'Hagan, who "had asked for his name to be removed from the book," so it doesn't sound like this guy was "slipped in". Ghost writers are standard fare for autobiographies.

      • He supposedly spent his advance on legal fees.
        Hilarious.

      • The bbc article on it gives far more detail:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15009028 [bbc.co.uk]

        ...particularly the comment: "After sitting with a ghost writer for more than 50 hours of taped interviews, he decided he wanted to cancel the contract. "
      • This is quite true. My parents were involved in a long drawn out trial in which it was determined their investment money was obtained fraudulently. They currently get about 50 bucks a month from the individual of the 50,000 USD they invested since the individual cannot afford to pay anyone anymore after going bankrupt. It was found the criminal was liable only for the principal without taking into account inflation, nor interest. It was from a typical investment scam, and though we may scoff at it now, it w
    • It isn't funny at all, just smart business.
      If they fight to get all their money back, they will spend money and chances they will not get it back or only part of it and a bunch of legal battles.
      So because he is in breach of contract, all bets are off so they will publish the book and make millions of pounds off of it.
      So they will get their money back and a profit.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this also means Assange won't see any royalty checks either?

        • Probably not.
          Just because you made a global stir it doesn't actually mean you are actually smart.

          But he should be OK with it. He is against those greedy capitalist making money anyways. He should live in poverty to prove his point. (Granted 500k Pounds, isn't quite poverty)

          • by Raenex (947668)

            (Granted 500k Pounds, isn't quite poverty)

            It might be after he's done with all his lawyer fees. The article reports that the money is currently in escrow for exactly that reason.

        • by 91degrees (207121)
          The publisher probably will pay those. They're carrying on as though contract has not been breached, Assange would have standing to sue, at the very least. The cost of royalties is nice, predictable, and already budgeted.
        • I assume he will.

          If I had to guess he was too far along to pull out. (Like that’s never happened before.). He got the advance and he delivered the book. He wanted to cancel the contract (and return the advance) but the publisher said “Thanks, but no – we will publish what we got”. The contract should still be in force.

          • he was too far along to pull out. (Like that’s never happened before.).

            All good things in life happen thrice...

        • by Aighearach (97333)

          He probably will get any promised royalties unless they separately sue him for breach of contract for only having done part of the work.

          Basically it sounds like they are just accepting what he did submit and going forwards as described in the contract.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        What I haven't seen mentioned is the obvious. If they sue and win, the contract is most likely undone and they don't have rights to the book. If they leave the matter as is, they have paid for the rights to his autobiography and thus can publish it.
        • by jc42 (318812)

          Yeah; my first thought was along the lines of what others here are saying. Julian and the publishers' people (and their lawyers) probably got together and worked this out as the best publicity stunt ever. The "autobiography" (ghost-written as usual) gets published, Julian gets "plausible deniability" for everything in it, the "scandalous" situation gets lots of free publicity, lots of books get sold, and so on. I'll bet they're reading this and chuckling, while sharing some beers. And it doesn't even m

    • You may hit them with "breach of contract", but in this case the added drama may increase book sales, more than anything else could.

      It still may have been planned from the start, but the purpose of the plan may have been as simple as "free advertising".

      • Speaking of sales, I wonder how long it will be before - or indeed if - the book gets Blaired* [metro.co.uk]... will it be before or after Assange himself goes on a 'potholing holiday'?

        Taking all bets!

        *Disclaimer: I have no firm opinion on the legality or morality of Assange's actions, but what happened there really did appeal to my love of whimsy.

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      Actually.... I would think that what you do is make a decision based on the current situation.

      Yes, maybe...even probably you CAN sue (hell, you can always file a suit right, even if you don't have jack shit). However, that doesn't mean that its your best move, or even a smart one.

      Take the ex-roomate who screwed me out of rent and bills. I had options, a lawyer advised me i could sue him outright, or I could call each incident a separate incident, and keep it in small claims court to do myself on the cheap.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If someone backs out on a contract with you, you don't just take what you have and say "oh well, we'll do with what we have." You hit them with breach of contract and get your money back.

      You're aware that you're talking about Julian Assange, right? Spend the next ten minutes trying to work out a scenario wherein someone sics lawyers on him, finds him (that is, gets through the layers of paranoia embedded deep within him to hide his location and activities), hauls his ass back to whatever jurisdiction is needed for legal proceedings, and ultimately manages to get five hundred thousand quid out of him sometime EARLIER than the next twenty-five years (money which, inevitably, has already been

      • by Raenex (947668)

        You're aware that you're talking about Julian Assange, right? Spend the next ten minutes trying to work out a scenario wherein someone sics lawyers on him, finds him (that is, gets through the layers of paranoia embedded deep within him to hide his location and activities), hauls his ass back to whatever jurisdiction is needed for legal proceedings,

        You're not informed [cbsnews.com], because his current location is known and he is pending extradition to Sweden at the very moment:

        "Assange must wear an electronic tag, report to police every day and observe a curfew. He also must stay at a registered address - a 10-bedroom mansion in eastern England owned by Vaughan Smith, a WikiLeaks supporter and founder of London's Frontline Club for journalists."

        and ultimately manages to get five hundred thousand quid out of him sometime EARLIER than the next twenty-five years (money which, inevitably, has already been spent).

        This is the most difficult part. However, supposedly the money is in escrow to pay for his lawyers, so it really depends

      • Oh no! How ever will they find this paranoid recluse!

        Using Google [wikipedia.org]

        Here's a map [g.co]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by macwhizkid (864124)

      I think it's more likely a calculated decision on the part of the publisher. Given what the NYTimes and Guardian both reported when they had to put up with him for the cable releases, Assange seems like the kind of person who would actually try to take the money without really considering the potential consequences.

      I'm sure they're confident that the character alone is well-known enough by now to sell at least a couple hundred thousand copies... even if the writing itself is first-draft quality. And I'm su

      • by horza (87255)

        Bit ironic using the Guardian as they didn't seem to consider the consequences of publishing a book with the encryption key that released the entire unredacted archive of US diplomatic cables to the world.

        "Assange seems like the kind of person [that steals money]". Nice random made-up observation. Any proof that he is a habitual criminal?

        Phillip.

    • In book publishing, writers are notorious for taking an advance payment and never delivering the book. Usually it's never delivering the final draft, which some authors never agree is quite finished. Sometimes it's years of "writer's block", or distractions. The coke and hookers an advance can buy (or more typically booze and cigarettes) can interfere with the discipline part of the creative process. And some publishers will add to the advance to encourage a writer to finish when they get late.

      Partly it's b

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      You can't just "back out" of contracts after you sign them. Especially if you don't refund the money! If you can't give the money back, you have little hope of avoiding the terms.

  • Leaks (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I shall download the book from pirate bay. After all, everyone must have access to information.

  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:18PM (#37472130) Homepage

    The publisher is understandably unhappy with this outcome, and intends to publish the 'world's first unauthorized autobiography' from an early draft Assange submitted.

    I don't believe a publisher would not be aware of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind [wikipedia.org], so the claim of being the "first unauthorized autobiography" is a lie.

  • So who will buy a copy? I expect the major audience--hackers--will universally pick up a copy off torrents, Usenet, IRC or a cyberlocker.

    • Hackers are a minority. Liberal Hippies are a huge market that they can make big money off of. They think they are so smart that they can out think capitalism. The capitalist know that and use it to make money off of them.

  • I don't care about Julian Assange as a person. He's just a face for Wikileaks. It's their goal which is important. This autobiography is just means to fund the goal. You might as well buy some expensive stickers from their webstore.

    • by cobrausn (1915176)
      To you, maybe. He thinks a bit higher of himself. After all, he thinks his (paid) memoirs should be "one of the unifying documents of our generation."
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Thanks for the head's-up on the budget - I had no idea we wasted so much money on NASA.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Thanks for the head's-up on the budget - I had no idea we wasted so much money on NASA.

        Or how much Americans have paid into programmes like Social Security out of every paycheck that we're entitled to get back, like when we retire.

  • Who would do a thing like that?
    • Who would do a thing like that?

      I read that as someone taken his IP address. Makes much more sense as intellectual property :)

  • See comment title. 'Nuff said.
  • I don't think he can back out, can he? A contract is a contract[1]. The other party may choose to let him buy himself out if he offers terms that they agree with; but they're under no obligation to do so.

    [1] There are some exceptions, but I'm not sure this is one of them.

  • Julian Assange backed out (allegedly worrying about self-incrimination)

    Vice President Cheney didn't worry.

  • Whatever the rights and wrongs of Wikileaks, I would take anything said in Assange's "autobiography", unauthorized or not, with several spoonfuls of salt. An article by Robert Manne struggles with some of the computing-related stuff, but fills in some useful background [themonthly.com.au].

    As he puts it:

    There is, however, a problem. Journalists as senior as David Leigh of the Guardian or John F. Burns of the New York Times in general accept on trust many of Assange’s stories about himself. They do not understand that, like many natural writers, he has fashioned his life into a fable.

  • I've been following this in the guardian recently and it seems to me that they have been spending a suspicious amount of time trying to assassinate Assange's character. Just read their take on the recent release of the un-redacted cables... and their other articles that seem to serve no purpose but to try and damage his reputation. They are all collected here if you care to waste a few hours... http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/julian-assange?INTCMP=SRCH [guardian.co.uk] All I see are a long list of ad-hominem and poisoning
  • Assange has lost much of the support that brought him into prominence. His horrible treatment of Bradley Manning has doubtless eroded the confidence of future potential major leakers.

    If I was a publisher, I'd be worrying that Assange's days as a household (?) name are numbered and I'd be trying to get my money while he was still somewhat "hot."

    • Err What? How exactly has he treated Bradley Manning badly?... It seems to me that he held up his end of the bargain perfectly.
  • I have it on good authority that in Sweden the legal term is Book By Surprise.

  • If you're interested in the subject, I recommend reading the Daniel Domsheit-Berg book: "Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website". If D's account is any guide, erratic behavior from Assange shouldn't come as a surprise. And myself I would expect an Assange autobiography to be even less accurate than is the norm for such a thing, he's apparently into "self-mythologizing".

    I've also been looking at Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy [barnesandnoble.com] by The "Guar

    • You'd trust the word of DDB over Assange?

  • Since Julian tried to point the finger at them for the release of the unredacted cables, their editorials of him have become scathing. [guardian.co.uk]

    Personally I hope an alternative to Wikileaks shows up at some point and does the whole thing properly without the ridiculous circus and personality cult of old Jools. The idea is a great one, I'd just prefer it without an egomaniacal dictator at the helm.

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