Politics

Nicky Hager is about to publish a new book. What’s it about? Here are the odds

A sequel to Dirty Politics? A blistering John Key exposé? An homage to soup? Ahead of tomorrow’s big launch, we play bookmaker.

A famous New Zealander has revealed the release date for a long-awaited new work, igniting a frenzy of speculation, the likes of which we haven’t seen since at least the other week.

Nicky Hager yesterday revealed he’ll be dropping his new volume – he may or may not have used the word dropped – on 21.03.17. The news came in an invitation to the launch, which reads:

The launch is being held at Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, Wellington. It begins at 5pm Tuesday 21 March 2017, with speakers at 5.15pm.

Some good detail there, but what we’re all wondering is: will Hager’s seventh book be a sequel to the remarkable 2014 pre-election book Dirty Politics, which drew on hacked emails to lay bare many of the links between John Key’s office and the attack blogger Cameron Slater? Will it be related to the election, or something completely different?

The invitation continues:

The book is not a sequel to Dirty Politics nor related to the election. It is a completely different book but nonetheless gripping and important.

So what is it about? Fresh from triumphantly installing Melodrama as favourite (all right, joint favourite) in runners and riders for the title of Lorde’s new album, the Spinoff has compiled odds for the subject of Hager’s new book.

A book about Velcro 100-1

Gripping and important, you say? As one perspicacious observer noted, that sounds a lot like Velcro. Is the book about Velcro, Nicky? Some other kind of adhesive? Blu-tak? Safety goggles? Skinny jeans? A vice? Is it about the critical role of a harness in aerial work?

Exposé of the REaL ReAsONS for John Key’s resignation 50-1

The new book will be published exactly 15 weeks and one day since John Key shocked us all by checking out of the ninth floor. Since then, there have been various OMG-this-is-the-real-reason-he-quit theories circulated. All these theories have one common element: none is supported by any actual evidence.

Maybe this book is that evidence. Maybe high-level bloglord and sheeple-waker Bomber Bradbury was on to something when he tweeted this:

(To be fair to Bradbury, he did predict more precisely the nature of Dirty Politics than most.)

Maybe Hager is being cute with this whole “completely different” and “not related to the election” thing and it’s not related to the election because John Key won’t be there for the election. And it is John Key’s valedictory speech on Wednesday, and Wednesday by all accounts does follow immediately in diurnal sequence after Tuesday. Eep!

When Hager told the Spinoff about the book-in-progress – and we’re confident it’s the same one – late in 2015, however, he said, “I’ve had one of the most important projects that I could imagine in my life ticking away and going through the early processes of working towards eventually getting it together.” So if it is about Key, it goes back a bit.

Of course, you’d assume the book will at very least involve Key in some way, so even if it’s not a searing indictment of the guy, you wouldn’t bet on him emerging a hero.

More other people’s wars 10-1

Not a sequel to Dirty Politics so much as a sequel to Other People’s Wars (2011), which focused on New Zealand’s involvement in the US-led conflict in Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, Iraq. A book on NZ’s deployment in Iraq, Australia’s role and all that? Hager has excellent contacts in the NZDF, as well as strong relationships with investigative journalists abroad and organisations like WikiLeaks.

New Secret Power 10-1

Hager was way ahead of the curve in 1996 when he published in his first book, Secret Power – New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network, revelations about the NZ involvement in the Five Eyes network. Most of us, probably John Key included, expected the 2014 book to be on this theme. The last five years has seen an explosion in stories about surveillance, driven mostly by the Edward Snowden revelations. Maybe Hager has new information about the GCSB and its links to the US, UK, Canadian and Australian spy agencies.

Tax 15-1

Hager was central to the Panama Papers stories, and had already written on international tax dodging. Matt Nippert would be in heaven.

A sequel to The Hollow Men 100-1

Not a sequel to Dirty Politics so much as a companion piece to The Hollow Men, likely to be called The Waste Land. The Hollow Men was the one about the National Party’s election strategy in 2005, which left Don Brash puffing smoke out his ears and Matthew Hooton spending “a weekend in the foetal position, feeling sorry for myself”. In fact, Hager called Dirty Politics a kind of sequel to The Hollow Men so let’s face it this is a longshot.

Dirty Politics 500-1

Not so much a sequel as just the exact same book again. Hager to explain, “it’s kind of an ICYMI sort of thing, yeah?”

Lager, Lager, Lager 1000-1

A tirade against people who misspell and pronounce names, with a palpable fury simmering beneath prose poems including lines such as “Let’s go to the bar and ask for a pint of Lay-gur, see how that goes” and “It’s not spelled fucking lagar is it, you fucks?”

Trump: not a good person 500-1

Nicky Hager exposes President Donald Trump as not a good person, drawing on evidence including all the things Donald Trump has said and done.

Nicky Hager at the launch of Dirty Politics in 2014. Photo: Ballofstring/Wikimedia

Cleanish Politics 1000-1

Hager makes the argument that politics have actually got less grubby since his last book, and while there’s some way to go, it’s worth stopping to celebrate, smell the roses, and say thanks to our political and business leaders for being there. Free pullout section includes mindfulness colour-in-the-Beehive and a short essay on prospects for Japan’s SunWolves in Super Rugby.

Soup 1000-1

Just an appreciation of soup, really. Your chowder, your gazpacho, your minestrone, all of them. Comes with a courageous polemic about croutons.

Rawshark revealed 1000-1

Nicky Hager callously unmasks Rawshark, explaining that he really needed to get another book out and he couldn’t think of any other ideas.


This content is brought to you by LifeDirect by Trade Me, where you’ll find all the top NZ insurers so you can compare deals and buy insurance then and there. You’ll also get 20% cashback when you take a life insurance policy out, so you can spend more time enjoying life and less time worrying about the things that can get in the way.

This election year, support The Spinoff Politics by using LifeDirect for your insurance. See lifedirect.co.nz/life-insurance

The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism. Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories. Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.