A History of Anonymous Books

We all have our own little questions and mysteries in life. One of these curious inquiries appears to be, “Who exactly wrote this book?” (Photo courtesy of Greyson Rupert)

With the recent scandal A Warning, many people want to know who the anonymous author is. All we know is that he claims to be one of Trump’s senior officials. The Justice Department has demanded the anonymous author to publicly release his name. In my opinion, if they didn’t do it before, why would they do it now? 

Instead of reporting on the whole scandal like just about everyone else, I think it is important to recognize that this situation is certainly not the first instance of anonymous authors giving private information about someone (or something) famous. Anonymous book authors have dated back to ancient Sumerian times, although their names may be lost to time, unreadable by today’s scientists. Those books and authors may have been accidental in nature, but nothing compares to the political books written in today’s brave new world.

In the 20th and 21st century, there are multiple books written and published by unknown people. Most of these are about a political presence during the time period or maybe even a dark past about a trend in that day’s society. A book by an originally anonymous author called Primary Colors highlights the scandal of Bill Clinton and his presidency. In this book, the characters are of a different name, but they represent their real life counterparts. In the book, Jack Stanton is a presidential candidate who believes in saying anything to get him into presidency. The author, later revealed to be Joe Klein, portrays Stanton as a character meant to resemble Bill Clinton, and the story is related to Clinton’s presidential campaign. 

Many questioned why Klein chose to remain anonymous. Someone who wished to remain anonymous thinks they know why Joe Klein wanted to continue to be nameless. They think that “Anonymity makes truthfulness easier.” If people reveal their names when writing about a political topic or candidate, they put a massive bullseye on their back, maybe even sealing your fate for becoming a figure in the government. The author of Primary Colors wanted to share his experiences on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign without exposing himself to flak from both sides of the community and the people on Bill’s side of the penny. 

This is not the only instance of anonymity that involved presidents, however. O: A Presidential Novel is a novel published anonymously about the presidential race of Barack Obama. The author claims he was “in the room with Obama during his race,” which raised an uproar of questions from the public as well as the government. The book is fictional but is almost picture perfect model of Obama’s presidency. The fictional character “O” is, like the previous novel, supposed to give an idea about who Obama was behind the leaflets advertising his presidency. An early review of the novel from The Washington Post explains that the book, “Clearly illustrates, season by season, just how effectively presidential campaigners plan, draft and articulate the political discourse that the press pretends it controls.”

The anonymous author books don’t just stop at presidents (or books). There are even websites coded by unknown people about other things, such as the digital currency of Bitcoin. The site, published on the internet in 2008,  which Satoshi Nakimoto is credited with creating. You may think that this is a relatively real name, but it’s truly just a pseudonym for the creator of Bitcoin. Satoshi created the website to attempt to introduce a new currency that people could invest in and sell when they wanted to. To some people’s surprise, Bitcoin has become one of the biggest and most successful digital currencies ever. 

Satoshi seems to be an economic genius to the public. Not only that, he is also a computer wizard, due to his ability to create an entire decentralized peer to peer economic trade system that relies on being completely online. Other companies have been attempting to create their own cryptocurrency, but to no avail. Satoshi created a whole new currency that the public could use instead of day to day greenbacks. The currency is supposed to be a trade system that users can invest in with their own money, selling it when the stock for it gets high. It has its own place in the stock market, and even follows the rules of stocks. Even though Satoshi has given his name to the public, his real name is still unknown, adding his website and cryptocurrency to the list of anonymous authors. 

Even after all of this, A Warning has become the focus of many people’s opinions of the anonymity of certain authors. Although there have been other authors that have chosen to remain anonymous, this is a whole new ballgame. Exposing the real time movements and flaws of Donald Trump’s presidency has never been done before, even after novels like O and Primary Colors, none of them have written nonfictional experiences about the president and his staff, while also taking steps on how to avoid getting caught by the government and the public. We are entering a whole new era of brave citizens, willing to step up to the plate for what they believe in, exposing their names and beliefs to the public.


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