I am half-expecting an invalid to turn up. Daniel Ellsberg’s publisher had e-mailed a week before to say he had been suffering from laryngitis, needed rest, and that his energy tended to flag early. They asked if I could bring the lunch forward to before noon. I could hardly blame Ellsberg, now 86, for wanting to cut our engagement short. Shortly after I take a seat at our table, a sprightly, besuited man wanders in. The only hint of infirmity is a large pink hearing aid protruding from his left ear. I rush to help Ellsberg with his coat. It takes a while to disentangle him. "I got this in Moscow when I visited Edward Snowden," he says, as if apologising for the garment. The moment we are seated, he asks a waiter for chamomile tea with honey. "I need it for my throat," he says. Several times over lunch he explains he cannot talk for long. "My voice is going very fast," he says. It begins weakly but grows steadily more animated. Two hours later he is still talking. The venue is The O...

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