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Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History [Hardcover]

Denver Nicks

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Book Description

June 1 2012

Beginning in early 2010, Bradley Manning leaked an astounding amount of classified information to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks: classified combat videos as well as tens of thousands of documents from the war in Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands from Iraq, and hundreds of thousands more from embassies around the globe. Almost all of WikiLeaks’s headline-making releases of information have come from one source, and one source only: Bradley Manning.

            Manning’s story is one of global significance, yet he remains an enigma. Now, for the first time, the full truth is told about a man who, at the age of only twenty-two, changed the world.

            Though the overarching narrative in media reports on Manning explain his leaks as motivated by the basest, most self-serving intentions, Private paints a far more nuanced, textured portrait of a man haunted by demons and driven by hope, forced into an ethically fraught situation by a dysfunctional military bureaucracy. Relying on numerous conversations with those who know Manning best, this book displays how Manning’s precocious intellect provided fertile ground for his sense of his own intellectual and moral superiority. It relates how a bright kid from middle America signed on to serve his country and found himself serving a cause far more sinister. And it explains what it takes for a person to betray his orders and fellow troops—and his own future—in order to fulfill what he sees as a higher purpose.             Manning’s court-martial may be the military trial of the decade, if not the century. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the man behind it all.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (June 1 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613740689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613740682
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16.3 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #424,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“In telling the story of how the intelligence analyst Bradley Manning came into contact with the self-promoting anti-secrecy radical Julian Assange under the pressure cooker of the Iraq war, Denver Nicks has written a page-turner that reads like a cyberthriller. It’s simultaneously a coming-of-age story, a coming-out story, an X-ray of American culture in the Homeland Security era, a well-researched history of espionage, an exposé of the routinized cruelties of the 21st-century US military, and a meditation on the human costs of the cult of secrecy.” —Ned Sublette, author of The World that Made New Orleans

“WikiLeaks accomplice Brad Manning was a gay geek in the military at a time when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ defined the war on all kinds of freedoms, not just sexual ones. Denver Nicks has given us a suspenseful, sensitively drawn account of righteous rage, vigilante justice, and the young man who risked his future to make the truth known.” —James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker

“Brad Manning’s ordinary existence becomes extraordinary through the fine writing of Nicks. The conversations between Manning, his confidants, and others are expertly woven together in a way that propels this story along like a thrilling, suspense-filled novel.” —Randy L. Schmidt, author of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

About the Author

Denver Nicks is a writer based in New York City. Originally from Oklahoma, he has developed a reputation for intrepid reporting in challenging contexts. Nicks has written about street art in Poland, a failed coup in the Philippines, post-coup Honduras, and the hidden working-class underbelly of Wall Street in the midst of the financial meltdown. A Fulbright Scholar, he holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in The Daily Beast, AlterNet, The Nation, and other publications.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (can't out-clever the book's title) July 16 2012
By DanielWhittle - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I began reading Denver Nicks' account of the Bradley Manning/Wikileaks story, Private, I must admit, I knew little more of the actual story than somebody had leaked volumes of classified material to a website. I remember, at the time the events in the book were initially being reported on, having conflicting feelings on what could be considered either a national betrayal or a naïve step towards the revealing power of the truth. I found the debate fascinating. So, as most of us did, I forgot all about it sometime between the season finale of Modern Family and learning that the World Cup was in fact infested with vuvuzelas and not a massive swarm of bees.

The intro/prologue is a lost art. In most cases I've experienced, the intro is simply a poorly named Chapter 1. Sometimes though, it's a clever non-sequitur that gives away the book's ending. I was, however, totally hooked by the intro to Private. I mean, a courtroom trial setting that seemed to put my favourite parts of A Few Good Men and A Time To Kill onto the same page and then demands the question, "Who is Bradley Manning?"

Nicks pulls a nice Steinbeck via segmentation, balancing the personal minutiae of Bradley Manning with the greater and longer historied cultural landscape that made way for this chain of events. If you honestly interview most people, I'd wager you'll find a decent enough biography somewhere in the details. With Manning, the pieces are all there in dramatic fashion so it struck me as odd that the more I read, the more I found myself wanting to skip to the chapters about the hacker code of ethics and this digital Andy Warhol fellow, Julian Assange.

Nicks goes into great detail about the circumstance and life of Bradley Manning, the outsider in a small town, the emotionally damaged boy, the superiority/inferiority complexed individual, the gay enlistee in a DADT Army, and, to me, it ultimately doesn't matter. And that's important. Read the biographies of Kurt Cobain and John Lennon. These are two men who had well-documented histories of volatile, random, manic, aggrandizing and deprecating behavior but do we really care or remember them for that? We remember them not for who they were but for what they did.

After reading this even-handed account, I'm still not sure how I feel on the situation. The frustrating part of the book is that it feels like it ends when it's all really beginning but I guess those are the breaks when you're reading about present reality. The leaks are still ocurring and Manning is still on trial and we still don't have an ending. The only thing I am sure of is that we'll see Mr. Nicks' name somewhere in the producer/screenwriter credits of the movie when it comes out.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much greater than the facts it covers July 8 2012
By Ned Trace - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brilliant book; well researched and well written. The story Nicks tells goes far beyond Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. He's tackling the whole question of secrecy in the information age and coming up with no easy answers. I guess I take two thoughts away with me: since 9/11 the US has devolved into a cult of government secrecy that best serves the power elite; and the crusaders who challenge this condition will never be the faultless heroes we would like. History is messy and confusing while it is being lived, and the best clarity we can hope for is knowing as much of the truth as we can.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicks brilliantly delivers the goods! July 23 2012
By MaxMaker - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This incredibly well researched body of work, detailing Manning, Assange, Wikileaks and the state of secrecy in America today reads more like a Tom Clancy novel than a piece of non-fiction!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital Reading March 1 2013
By dale maharidge - Published on
Denver Nicks takes us as much as possible into the mind of Private Manning to tell the human side of a story that is in the headlines. Left, right, center, we should be scared of what the U.S. Government is doing these days in the name of national security. If you like TomDispatch, the late Alexander Cockburn, or the work of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, you will love this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Denver Nicks Jan. 9 2013
By Jeffrey Arnoldi - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very good author addressing a timely story. A good place to start to understand this complex case. Highly recommend this book.

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