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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man (Vintage) Paperback – February 7, 2014

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804173524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804173520
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Reads like a le Carré novel crossed with something by Kafka. . . . A fast-paced, almost novelistic narrative. . . . [The book] gives readers . . . a succinct overview of the momentous events of the past year. . . . Leave[s] readers with an acute understanding of the serious issues involved.” 
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“[Snowden’s] story is one of the most compelling in the history of American espionage. . . . The Snowden Files, by Luke Harding, a correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, which broke the initial Snowden story, is the first to assemble the sequence of events in a single volume. The book captures the drama of Snowden’s operation in often-cinematic detail. . . . Harding has delivered a clearly written and captivating account of the Snowden leaks and their aftermath.”
The Washington Post

“Engaging and lucid. . . . A gripping read. . . . Harding is a gifted writer. . . . The strength of Harding's book is its ability to bring Snowden's story to life while elucidating the contours of a much larger set of issues. . . . In rendering the complicated comprehensible in an entertaining way, Harding's book provides an important public service.”
San Francisco Chronicle

The Snowden Files, the first book on what British journalist Luke Harding calls ‘the biggest intelligence leak in history,’ is a readable and thorough account. The narrative is rich in newsroom details, reflecting Harding's inside access as a correspondent for the London-based Guardian newspaper, which broke the story. . . . The writer deserves unqualified praise for fueling the debate on privacy that Snowden so hoped to ignite.”

“A super-readable, thrillerish account of the events surrounding the reporting of the documents. . . . Harding has done an amazing—and speedy—job of assembling material from a wide variety of sources and turning it into an exciting account.”
—The London Review of Books

"The Snowden Files is a one-stop shop, covering his formative years, the government jobs that would eventually give him access, and even the development of the data-gathering programs he exposed to the world. It’s as impressive in its execution as it is infuriating to revisit how much government manipulation and duplicity was involved. (Harding does an equally thorough job explaining the role played by the UK’s version of the NSA—the GCHQ—and their appallingly thuggish actions as the news stories broke.) . . . Harding is unflinchingly honest. . . . [He] ask[s] hard questions about the consequences of Snowden’s actions. While Harding is a Snowden supporter, he’s hardly a blind one."
San Francisco Book Review

“A newsworthy, must-read book about what prompted Edward Snowden to blow the whistle on his former employer, the National Security Agency, and what likely awaits him for having done so. . . . Whether you view Snowden’s act as patriotic or treasonous, this fast-paced, densely detailed book is the narrative of first resort.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Engaging. . . . Harding’s well-researched and compelling book is highly recommended.”
Library Journal

“Recounts the incredible story of how Snowden becomes angry about the abuses he says he witnessed inside the system, resolves to pull off a stunning electronic heist by downloading the NSA’s and its partners’ most sensitive files, and gives them to journalists he has persuaded to meet him in Hong Kong. Harding captures nicely the moment when The Guardian pushes the button on its first Snowden story, an intense, adrenaline-filled cocktail of high-minded journalistic zeal and the sheer thrill of publishing sensitive information.”
Financial Times

About the Author

Luke Harding is an award-winning foreign correspondent with the Guardian. He has reported from Delhi, Berlin and Moscow and has also covered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the author of Mafia State and co-author of WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy (2011) and The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken (1997), nominated for the Orwell Prize. The film rights to WikiLeaks were sold to Dreamworks and the film, "The Fifth Estate," came out in 2013. His books have been translated into 13 languages. Luke lives in England with his wife and their two children.

More About the Author

Luke Harding is a journalist, writer and award-winning correspondent with the Guardian. He has reported from Delhi, Berlin and Moscow and covered wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Between 2007 and 2011 he was the Guardian's Moscow bureau chief. The Kremlin expelled him from the country in the first case of its kind since the Cold War.

His new book "The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man" is published on February 11, 2014 by Vintage Books in the US and by Guardian Faber in the UK. "The Snowden Files" will also be published in Brazil, China, Korea, Norway, Holland, Portugal and Japan, to date.

He is the author of three previous non-fiction books. They are "The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken" (1997), nominated for the Orwell Prize; and "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy" (2011), both written with David Leigh. The film rights to Wikileaks were sold to DreamWorks and the film, The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl, came out in 2013. "Mafia State: How One Reporter Became an Enemy of the Brutal New Russia appeared in 2011 in the UK, and as "Expelled" in the US in 2012.

Luke lives in Hertfordshire, UK, with his wife, the freelance journalist Phoebe Taplin, and their two children

Customer Reviews

Interesting book to read.
Kenny Cho
The great value of Luke Harding's book is that it gets you thinking about such things.
The book gives a good insight into the story of Snowden.
Ole Asbjørn Riis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The NSA walks into a bar and says, "Give me all your drinks. I need to figure out which one to order." That joke came out of the new book, THE SNOWDEN FILES: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST WANTED MAN by British journalist Luke Harding. It is one of a great many thought-provoking passages in this timely and well-written book, in addition to being probably the funniest.

Probably everything you've heard about Edward Snowden factually is true, but there is more besides that, and this book puts together the saga in a common-sense way that tells us just about everything there is to know, at least as of now. It is true that Snowden bootstrapped a career based on a mere GED and love of computers through several different agencies, and was living in Hawaii with his girlfriend at the time of his disappearance, bearing with him an astonishing amount of top-secret NSA files. (It is also true that he was enroute to earning close to $200,000 a year had he gone on doing what his colleagues did, which was shut up and ignore the huge credibility gap between what the NSA told Congress it was doing, and what it was actually doing.) It is true that Snowden holed up in a hotel room in the Kowloon borough of Hong Kong and started disseminating the information among two Americans, a political activist and a documentary filmmaker, who had taken up residence in Brazil for security reasons. It is true Snowden got out of Hong Kong in the nick of time, headed for Russia, and that if the NSA had been as clever with interdiction as it was with "hoovering" up vast realms of telecommunications data, he'd likely have been captured.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By G. B. ROBINSON on February 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Just finished reading this superbly written account by the Guardian journalist, Luke Harding, who really knows how to master a large collection of facts and opinion and transmit them in a way that's a delight to read. As I'd followed this story from the start in the Guardian, the story was familiar to me, but the book still filled in very many details that I hadn't known. One of the things that really stood out for me occurs during a discussion of Snowden's slowly developing decision to go public: "Snowden said he hadn't voted for Obama in 2008 but had 'believed' in his promises ... He had intended to 'disclose' what he had found out, but decided to wait and see following Obama's election. What did happen, he said, was profoundly disillusioning: 'He continued with the policies of his predecessor'." (P 108)

So there you have it. Remember all that "Change you can believe in", all that "audacity of hope", the "Yes we can"? It's tempting to ask will anyone ever again get taken in by that kind of fraudulent rhetoric, but of course they will as time goes on, as people forget, as new generations come along.

Had post-election Obama done as pre-election Obama promised, we'd never have had to hear the name Edward Snowden, at least not in this connection. Harding reminds us of a few Obama promises: "No more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more National Security Letters to spy on American Citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do no more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient." (P 98)

(Before I forget to mention it, there's a really detailed index, 12 pages, very useful indeed. I just used it to look up those quotes.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful By ALAN KURTZ on February 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not for everyone. If you've already decided that Snowden is a hero, wait for Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State to be published April 29. If, on the other hand, you're convinced Snowden is a heel, get The Snowden Operation: Inside the West's Greatest Intelligence Disaster (Kindle Singles) by Edward Lucas. You can count on each book to reinforce your preconceptions.

For the rest of us, though, who haven't quite made up our minds and are looking for an eminently readable introduction to the subject, Luke Harding's entry in the Snowden sweepstakes is a winner.

It's become cliché to say so, but this real-life adventure is indeed as suspenseful as a fictional spy thriller, even for readers familiar with the broad outlines of Snowden's well-publicized exploits. It's an unfinished tale but we're in the hands of a gifted storyteller, whose pacing and selection of salient details overcome the lack of closure.

Structure, however, is another matter. Harding's drama is weakest when he ushers Snowden off stage, as he too often does, interrupting narrative momentum for what can only be called padding. Vintage Books' U.S. edition has reproduced Guardian Faber's UK edition intact--to questionable effect, since 3 of 14 chapters (8, 9, 14) are devoted exclusively to the British angle. Other extended digressions include more background than needed on PRISM, the NSA's clandestine data-mining program (chap.
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