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on October 17, 2016
I think, overall, this was not a badly written book by any means.
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 In other words, this is by no means going to be an outdated book in a few years, but rather something that I feel is very relevant to the times we live in.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.
4 people found this helpful
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on June 2, 2014
This an excellent companion to Greenwald's book, No place to hide, it brings into focus the ensuing efforts of the government spies and politicians to subvert public knowledge and to prevent accountability by the spies and their bosses. This book reveals the actions taken in 2013 /14 and shows that too many people think spying doesn't affect or is ok with them . The governmental oversight by congressional committees is a farce, and laws passed to assuage the irate public have been a sham. Spying continues and funding is expanded. The emperor is not going to give up the mantle of power inherent with total data collection. A sad commentary on what has happened to Snowden , as Obama and Kerry desperately demonize him. Certainly being trapped in Russia and facing possible death sentence is retribution enough. Americans wake up, speak up, and demand real change.
2 people found this helpful
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on June 25, 2014
I read this book on my Kindle, and it was some of the best money I've ever spent on Amazon. The story is quite simply amazing, and the telling of it by Luke Harding, one of the journalists tasked with going through all the stolen NSA documents, is even-handed, and does not seek to convince the reader of anything...only to present the facts, and tell the story. I had already seen the Frontline/ProPublica documentary on these programs, and felt I knew the entire story....but after reading this book, I realize how little I did know. It forced me to reconsider my relationship with Facebook, Gmail, Google, Twitter, and all the other social networking sites who sell all the information I provide them to marketers, as well as the NSA. An amazing story of the greatest breach of US intelligence ever perpetrated was carried out by an idealistic, comically young man who witnessed what he felt was a clear violation of the Constitution, and felt compelled to speak out.

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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on March 17, 2014
Luke Harding has done an excellent job in researching and then writing: "The Snowden Files". Not only is it "hot off the press" and up to date, but it explains just how our federal government has abused its authority in spying. It also shows how our government has tried to cover up its abuses as evidenced when NSA's James Clapper lied to Congress when he falsly stated "no" to the question about the NSA collecting data on millions of Americans. The book reveals how the US and England went about collecting this data and details the actions of Edward Snowden; who has now sought refuge in Russia. Is Snowden guilty of treason or some lessor crime? Should Snowden be thought of as a hero for releasing hundreds of thousands of documents? The readers can come to their own conclusions!

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.
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on May 25, 2016
I enjoyed reading about E's motivation and determination. I would like to have found out more about his personal life that may have influenced the greatest intelligence coup in the history of intelligence gathering. Anyone with an interest in intelligence should definitely read this masterful expose.
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on June 4, 2014
I am one of those people that can't quite decide how I feel about Ed Snowden. On the one hand he did expose the fact that our government is breaking it,s own laws in spying on us without due cause. But on the other hand, in this rapidly evolving and dangerous world we need all the protection we can get.
Do we willingly give up our privacy for what we hope is a little more security? Can we trust the people running our government to do what is best for us? At least Snowden put the question out there for us all to think about.
As for him being in Russia, I don't think that is what he had in mind when he started this. I think that was just how things worked out. To those who say he should "come back and face the music", I disagree. I really don't think he would be treated fairly by the very people who broke the law in the first place. The reason for not giving the book 5 stars is that I think it was pretty much slanted in Snowden,s favor. But still very worth the time to read it.
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on October 7, 2015
Of all the Snowden chronicles out there, this is the one to get. Not filled with overly technical jargon and indecipherable graphics (for the lay person), Harding tells the story as a reporter writes it. It's tense stuff, telling the story phase by phase, location by location. I especially liked the way Harding reports the WHY of Snowden's whistleblowing. I am now a firm supporter, and one other reason why I am is in the reading this book.
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on August 11, 2014
I had to stop, it's quite upsetting to hear about all the crap the US government does in what they say is in the name of freedom and democracy, it's for the POWER they do it, nothing less. The American people have been divided over Edward Snowden, I personally believe he has done a courageous and inspiring thing by keeping within limits so people won't be hurt by his decision to reveal secrets. It's a shame more Americans don't support him but they are afraid; the government is cracking down on Whistleblowers, why be a fool and get in jail or killed or hated for doing the right thing? I found this story well written but I couldn't finish it, just a personal sensitivity to upsetting government control (is that a drone outside my window?) I use encrypted email and tight security on my browser!
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on April 2, 2018
Read for a political messaging PhD course this book was informative, helped me understand the situation around Snowden, and shown a light on a world I knew little about. Important for our times, this book is an interesting and important read. I recommend this book.
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on August 19, 2014
I def would recommend this book for the simple fact that we our under complete pressure of disarming the best constitution out there. Thus the government is spying on are every move. We no longer have any privacy but yet we can't walk outside naked. It's a double sided sword. Frankly, im so glad we have wistleblowers and im truly grateful that we had Ed snowden display this truth of what the American government truly is like. Sad,so sad. But true, so true. If you ever needed help Ed, im so on your side as i wish everyone was on the side of the constitution our ancestors and forefathers fought for. So, for all you people that need to be awakened, this is a great book to start out.
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