A profile of Julian Assange, by his ghostwriter

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, 2011. Toby Melville/Reuters

"Ghosting," by Andrew O’Hagan, is a most interesting personal profile of the Wikileaks founder by a writer in the most interesting position of having ghostwritten Assange's autobiography. Assange later disavowed the project, telling publisher Canongate "All memoir is prostitution," and sought to have his contract canceled and the book killed. It was published.

From O'Hagan's account of their first meeting, in which they discussed the sort of book Assange originally wished to write--part memoir, part manifesto:

He said he’d hoped to have something that read like Hemingway. ‘When people have been put in prison who might never have had time to write, the thing they write can be galvanising and amazing. I wouldn’t say this publicly, but Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in prison.’ He admitted it wasn’t a great book but it wouldn’t have been written if Hitler had not been put away. He said that Tim Geithner, the US secretary of the Treasury, had been asked to look into ways to hinder companies that would profit from subversive organisations. That meant Knopf would come under fire for publishing the book.

I asked him if he had a working title yet and he said, to laughter, ‘Yes. “Ban This Book: From Swedish Whores to Pentagon Bores”.’ It was interesting to see how he parried with some notion of himself as a public figure, as a rock star really, when all the activists I’ve ever known tend to see themselves as marginal and possibly eccentric figures. Assange referred a number of times to the fact that people were in love with him, but I couldn’t see the coolness, the charisma he took for granted. He spoke at length about his ‘enemies’, mainly the Guardian and the New York Times.

Quite a long read, and well worth it this weekend. [London Review of Books]