Now a major motion picture, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Edward Snowden was a 29-year-old computer genius working for the National Security Agency when he shocked the world by exposing the near-universal mass surveillance programs of the United States government. His whistleblowing has shaken the leaders of nations worldwide, and generated a passionate public debate on the dangers of global monitoring and the threat to individual privacy.
In a tour de force of investigative journalism that reads like a spy novel, award-winning Guardian reporter Luke Harding tells Snowden’s astonishing story—from the day he left his glamorous girlfriend in Honolulu carrying a hard drive full of secrets, to the weeks of his secret-spilling in Hong Kong, to his battle for asylum and his exile in Moscow. For the first time, Harding brings together the many sources and strands of the story—touching on everything from concerns about domestic spying to the complicity of the tech sector—while also placing us in the room with Edward Snowden himself. The result is a gripping insider narrative—and a necessary and timely account of what is at stake for all of us in the new digital age.
In this first book published on the controversial whistleblower, Guardian foreign correspondent Harding (Mafia State) chronicles Snowden's emergence, the complicated logistics of his revelations and their publication, and the global political ramifications. The telling is sympathetic towards Snowden, offering at the outset significant background on his upbringing and his personal life, before reporting the rest: Snowden's contact with Poitras and Greenwald, his hiding in Hong Kong, the process and difficulties of publication in the Guardian and then the New York Times, the global repercussions, and his current Russian asylum. The book reads sometimes as a political thriller and the prose itself aims to thrill, too, by building suspense and reminding the reader constantly of the stakes. Altogether it mainly retells what has already been told, drawing on previously published interviews, articles, and press releases. Often, too, the exact sources are unclear. And while the story sometimes lacks in insight from those directly involved and in the analysis that will be possible as we get more temporal distance from the events, Harding provides crucial context and history for the story. His compilation and synthesis of the records is useful for a reader in need of a primer.
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This is the most comprehensive representation of the Snowden and the impact of his leaks globally. It is a scholarly account that reads like a novel covering the global entanglements related to secret surveillance. The best comprehensive summary on this topic I have read.