README.txt describes in painful, affecting detail what happened as a result of the U.S. Army intelligence analyst’s decision in 2010 ... Manning intends this memoir to explain and to instruct ... Though many of the facts here were previously known through extensive news reporting over more than a decade, Manning’s memoir fills in some blanks and, most important, adds a searing personal element. The writing in README.txt is vivid ... Although Manning’s tale is troubling to read, it manages to be uplifting as well. In addition to describing the abuse she was so often subjected to, she writes of small but touching acts of kindness ... Her sense of accomplishment in becoming her true self gives the memoir something of a redemptive ending.
We may know some facts of this story, but what we cannot know as an abstract fact — what we can only feel through Manning’s unfurling of narrative detail — is the texture of her choices ... An insider confessional turned inside out for the 21st century ... Manning is canny in her refusal to simply embrace the confessional mode often demanded of trans writers and whistleblowers alike ... Non-confession is an apt approach to this American feint, whereby imperial aggression is alternately cloistered and flaunted at will. And anyway, what other kind of memoir could be written by someone whose life has been made so extensively, excruciatingly public? Manning’s tremendous bravery, much of the information she released, and the ways in which she was punished and tortured in the wake of her disclosures are all a matter of extremely public record ... So disclosure isn’t the road she travels in this memoir ... Manning’s memoir may thus give us less, not more, of what we may think we know about her. But this is an artful refusal, and an important one ... Absorbing ... The narrative progression that unfolds over these pages forms a sublime arc within the memoir.
Gripping ... It takes extraordinary qualities to do some of the things she recounts in this book ... Against the odds and against a great deal of prejudice, Chelsea Manning has become a new kind of American heroine.
At times, README.txt is vague; some sections have been blacked out, presumably on legal advice. Manning claims to have seen more than she ever disclosed, things she 'will never reveal' ... Even so, what remains is a compelling, taut account of what she has experienced, and a persuasive justification of how she behaved.
Forceful but sometimes gruelling ... What Manning glosses over is the allegation — made publicly by Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, and many others — that her leaks put lives at risk ... Without comprehensively knocking that down, I suspect this memoir won’t change many minds. To those who see Manning as a hero, it will only intensify that feeling, given all the hardships she has overcome. Those who see villainy may perhaps find their views tempered by sympathy, but also largely unchanged.