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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man (Vintage) [Paperback]

Luke Harding
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Feb 2014 Vintage

What followed was the most spectacular intelligence breach ever, brought about by one extraordinary man. 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.

Product details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (7 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804173524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804173520
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,167,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The saga of Edward J. Snowden, the man whose leaked documents revealed the Orwellian dimensions of the National Security Agency, reads like a le Carré novel crossed with something by Kafka - at least it does in Luke Harding's new book, The Snowden Files ... But the book still gives readers, who have not been following the Snowden story closely, a succinct overview of the momentous events of the past year. And if it leans toward dramatizing everything in thrillerlike terms, the book also manages to leave readers with an acute understanding of the serious issues involved: the N.S.A.'s surveillance activities and voluminous collection of data, and the consequences that this sifting of bigger and bigger haystacks for tiny needles has had on the public and its right to privacy. (Michiko Kakutani New York Times)

Luke Harding's breathless page-turner ... reads more like a spy thriller than a piece of dry political analysis ... this is a riveting read and it unravels the mystery better than anything that's been published so far. (David Runciman The Guardian)

The Snowden Files - as the iPhone episode suggests - is a super-readable, thrillerish account of the events surrounding the reporting of the documents, with a few interludes sketching out what some of the stories have revealed ... Harding has done an amazing - and speedy - job of assembling material from a wide variety of sources and turning it into an exciting account. (Daniel Soar London Review of Books)

'Harding's account of how the leaks came to be published is thrilling, full of intrigue, last-minute flights, secret meetings and heroic hacks and editors ... it is a vital account of the story of the decade and the issue of our age: when our lives are lived on wires, how safe are we from those who would use our private information against us, whether criminals, foreign agents or our own governments? (Padraig Ready The Irish Times)

Without one man's courage and a life-altering decision, millions would never know about this most secret abuse of power by the intelligence agencies. This is the story of our age, brilliantly told. (Henry Porter) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Investigative journalism at its best. The Snowden Files tells the story of the individuals behind the biggest leak in history and the forces that tried to stop them. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written account 27 Mar 2014
By R James
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Books about the internet and hackers are mostly really boring and badly written so its a pleasure to find one with a gripping narrative but also plenty of detail, at least for the non-geek.
If you want to know about how easily the government, police and a raft of other agencies can access all your online data then this is a great account.
Snowden has been criminalised by the US and no doubt he did break the law - but so were the US and UK governments by ripping off all our data.
By exposing what the US govt was doing and making them regulate it, he's done that country - and the UK - a huge favour, and reminded us what makes us different from, and better than, states like Russia and China.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By tychos
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought two books on the Snowden affair to try and get different angles on the story. This one is very much pro-Snowden and anti-NSA/GCHQ while the other (by Edward Lucas) is really quite the opposite.

This was a well written account which raises many questions about the tapping activities of the UK and US governments and gives an insight into why Snowden leaked information and how the leak developed. I think it's probably a fair portrait of Snowden and I agree that the spectacle of GCHQ 'technicians' overseeing the destruction of Guardian laptops was disturbingly Orwellian (not to mention extremely stupid, since the horse had clearly bolted in multiple directions by then). What it doesn't do is address whether Snowden had any other agendas. Given the world of shadows and double dealing from which he came this is still a fair question.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying 25 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like Luke Harding's book on his Russian experience, I couldn't put this one down.
Everyone in Britain, and much farther afield, ought to read this - and keep it handy to read again and hand on to the next generation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Louie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'll keep it short and sweet, this book summarises the Snowdon story very well and it really does read like a thriller. The best thing about this book is the great detail that Luke Harding goes into which makes it hard to put down! The ways in which the UK government reacted to the leaks and the actions they took are very worrying. Highly recommended!!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The secret surveillance programmes of the NSA. 5 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Whatever one thinks about Edward Snowden, whether he is a traitor who deserves a very long term of imprisonment, or whether he is a hero who has sacrificed his future to expose an Orwellian world of unauthorized surveillance and law breaking, one cannot deny the the importance of the devastating revelations in this well-written, riveting book.

It starts by describing Snowden's development as a young man. Surprisingly, he has little formal education, not even a high school diploma, the very minimum passport in America for a reasonable job, but has obvious intelligence and an early keen interest in, and ability with, computers. He first surfaced as a prolific contributor to online forums. At this stage he was politically a conservative, with a strong belief in the sanctity of the American constitution, something he had been taught by his father. He was a patriot who wanted to serve his country in the military, but his short stint in the US army was a disaster, when he broke both his legs and was discharged.

Somehow, despite his lack of qualifications, he manage to get a job as an IT specialist in a small outfit that was a covert facility for NSA (National Security Agency) and from there he moved on to work for the State Department in Europe and began to have access to classified information. His internet posts at this time show that he was strongly opposed to leaking any secret information, regarding it as a despicable act, but by the time he had finished a period in Geneva working with CIA officers he began to experience a `crisis of confidence', and became increasingly disillusioned at his government's activities. He resigned from the CIA and became a contractor in a NSA facility at a military base in Japan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 19 July 2014
By J. Mero
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of today's Must Reads! Fascinating to see Snowden's courage and cleverness in bringing out the US and UK governments' illegal activities!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking in the facts presented 20 Mar 2014
No review could do justice to this book, it is quite simply a must read as you will, as I was, be shocked at the facts disclosed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! 28 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Awsome very informative a real eye opener although it makes you wonder if NSA and GCHQ know you've bought it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Big brother is watching you
Very informative book on Edward Snowden and how the NSA and GCHQ are snooping on all of us - just because they can.
Published 6 days ago by Ciara
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The book was good and its delivery was quick.
Published 1 month ago by N. YONETANI
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, a real pleasure, look forward to the sequel
I have followed this story since it's break in July 2013 (spot the Guardian reader). So I assumed most of it would be a repeat of things I already knew. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Casemore
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, perhaps a little too subjective.
It's a good book, well written and very enlightening. I must, however, point out that it does seem to come across as a bit subjective about Snowden, as hard as the author does seem... Read more
Published 1 month ago by @mrgarethm
5.0 out of 5 stars You will never trust the Government again!
A great read.
Could not put it down once I started.
A compelling read.
Edward Snowden is my hero.
We owe him a lot for what he has done.
Published 1 month ago by Foxy_Mum
5.0 out of 5 stars bought as present, happily recieved
girlfriend loved it and bought another copy for her dad
Published 2 months ago by Mr. C. D. J. Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
It's hard to put this book down. From start to finish showing how Snowden was destined for this journey. Fantastic!
Published 3 months ago by Gregg Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading for one perspective
A well-written description of the Snowden affair - in fact one is lead to wonder whether the author was deliberately lining it up for a movie from the start. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Chris Franklin
1.0 out of 5 stars Complete Rubbish
Poorly written and full of self-righteous diatribe. This is typical gutter press journalism trying to justify a treacherous and unlawful act carried out by someone entrusted to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by P M Dodd
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Reading
I liked Luke Harding's Mafia State and thoroughly enjoyed his style - so I thought I would try another of his works. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr Keith A Barlow
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