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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man Paperback – February 7, 2014
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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“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.”
“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.”
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.
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It kind of feels like something written from the point of view of the Guardian and their involvement with Snowden and the now legendary encounter between him and their newspaper agency. There isn't much left out to Snowden's story, I felt, in this book either. You get a whole picture of who Snowden is, what he did, why he did it, and a glimpse into his possible future which at this moment I write the review, feels very uncertain. In other words, this is by no means going to be an outdated book in a few years, but rather something that I feel is very relevant to the times we live in. Snowden did what he thought was right, and the debate still rages on as to whether or not what he did amounts to treason and illegal possession of government property, or something that illuminated just much of a reach the government of the United States has into our personal lives via their domination of the digital universe that we all live in. This book explores both sides of the argument, and also showcases a lot of the responses from the key people involved with Snowden's story, from beginning to end.
I think my only gripe with this book, and it's a small one, is that I felt at times the book tended to get bogged down with a lot of discussion about The Guardian and their internal struggles that resulted from Snowden seeking to involve them in breaking his story to the world. It just felt a little too extraneous at times, as though 30 pages could've been cut out of this book to make it a much faster-paced read. If you like details though, then you'll have no problem with this book, and I suppose with all the stuff written about The Guardian.
All in all, this is an exceptional read. I recommend it to anyone who is curious to know Snowden's story.
I especially appreciated that the author did not try to 'convince me' that this man was 'good', 'bad', or 'misguided'....he had no agenda other than to tell the story, and quote the sources involved. Each reader can make up their own mind.
The only slight criticism I could offer is that, as an American, I felt the story telling focused on the British side of the breach, rather than the American side. As an American, I was less-interested in the minutia surrounding the British stories, and would have been satisfied with broader strokes there. I would have liked that minutia on the American side, but did not get quite enough. As the author is British, and the book published in both the UK and the US, it is unsurprising that this should occur, and is such a minor criticism as to barely be worth the trouble to write it.
Overall, an excellent read, made all the more amazing by the fact that it actually happened. Would recommend highly to anyone wanting to know more about the entire affair.
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The bottom line is that "The Snowden Files" is a comtemporary true spy novel and could effect many millions of Americans who use a telephone or computer. It is well written and exposes what our government is capable of doing. My only negative comment is that the Harding spent to many pages in documenting similar abuses in England.