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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,956 ratings  ·  429 reviews
Edward Snowden, a young computer genius working for America's National Security Agency, blew the whistle on the way this frighteningly powerful organisation uses new technology to spy on the entire planet. The consequences have shaken the leaders of nations worldwide. This is the inside story of Snowden's deeds and the journalists who faced down pressure from the US and UK ...more
Paperback, 333 pages
Published February 14th 2014 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2014)
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D.J. Cockburn Just seen this so it may be a bit late for the book club by now, but the best response I've seen was in a TED talk by NSA Deputy Director Richard Lege…moreJust seen this so it may be a bit late for the book club by now, but the best response I've seen was in a TED talk by NSA Deputy Director Richard Legett (, given in direct response to Snowden's own TED talk ( Hope that's some help!(less)

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Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A real story written by the guardian reporter Luke Harding about the American Edward Snowden the former employee at the National Security Agency who copied and leaked highly classified documents and information at 2013, exposing the surveillance programs of the United States government.
the book displays his life, work and the Hong Kong period where he shocked the world by exposing the secret facts, till his residence in Moscow
even if nothing changes, he is still a brave man did what he thought t
Diane in Australia
I've always said that if the average person, in any country, knew just one-tenth of what goes on behind closed doors in their government (and big business), they'd be horrified. Snowden's files prove me correct. Sadly, I doubt if exposure changes things much ... except to make the offenders seek out new ways to keep doing their deeds.

4 Stars = Outstanding. It definitely held my interest.
Mal Warwick
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
When the news broke late in May 2013 about a junior contract employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) who had fled to Hong Kong with a collection of top secret documents about US intelligence practices in his possession, I didn’t pay a great deal of attention. Nor did I think much of it when the first stories surfaced in the Guardian and the Washington Post that were based on the purloined documents. The headlines merely seemed to confirm what we in the public had learned from previous dis ...more
Radio and TV coverage of the Snowden leaks were spotty. This book helped to fill in the details, background, and what happened since Snowden showed up in Moscow. Snowden himself, and his girlfriend Lindsay Mills, are fleshed out a little more, and I learned why an American would go to British journalists, the Guardian, with the information he had purloined. It turns out the British, specifically their top-secret telecommunications monitoring arm, GCHQ, collaborated with the NSA: “We have the bra ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For those of my generation, you will recall reading 1984 and Brave New World. The debate was how society might evolve toward some form of totalitarian control. In fact today both forms, drugs and invasion of privacy are complimenting each other to reach such goal. Snowden's book written by The Guardian's journalist shows how far this pervasive spying on everyone is been carried out through the internet, phone and all digital tools.

The point that Bin Laden knew that and did not even have a phone
Arun Divakar
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Life as we know it is now almost entirely on the internet. When we are not on the phone (which in itself is a rare thing), we are on the computer or the tablet swimming in the ocean of the internet. We live, play, work, love and trade on the internet and build our entire identities there. I will complete this review and post it on an online forum which is again an irony from the POV of the book. Imagine the kind of information that is available in the world of the internet, everything we have ev ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
Let's put aside the debate whether Snowden was right or wrong to release thousands of classified government documents and focus on what the outcome of this was. To me, the outcome (or reason for releasing the documents) is the real issue here.

Imagine you are in an airport, would you say the word "bomb"? Imagine you are on Google in your private home on your private internet, would you search "how to make a pipe bomb?" or "how to make a fertilizer bomb?". Probably not. And why? Because you are aw
James Roberts
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First off, I'd like to apologize for not posting earlier. I finished the book a couple of months ago, and have only recently found the time to write a review. As to the book, I appreciated it because of its perspective. In my opinion, I feel that the message is simple, concise and unbiased. As opposed to what you will get from the American mass media, the UK media etc., we are given an inside view of the thoughts and reasoning behind the actions of a young man who felt compelled to out what he f ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great . . . if you're a journalist and like the fast-paced action and efforts by the Guardian to protect freedom of the press and the First Amendment. Curious that a newspaper in the UK is seeking protection of the First Amendment when the UK does not even have either a Constitution or Bill of Rights like we enjoy here in the US. It begs the question: Where was the US Press -- or the Fourth Estate -- when all this was happening under our noses? To ask the question is to answer it: asleep at the ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A truly enjoyable read. Personally, I would've given it a 5 stars rating, but it took on a more speculative tone and left me with a few questions (which I couldn't really decided whether the Author purposefully intended to or simply hadn't answers for) that probably got me all riled-up to want to get them answered.
Brian Hale
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good book . I think he did the right thing but was the only one hurt by his findings. Amazing how little privacy we really have and how computers (internet) has taken over our lives.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
When the Patriot Act first passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, I was part of a group that organized panel discussions and protests against the act. The kind of wholesale surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden was exactly the kind of thing, we feared, for which the Patriot Act paved the way. And although the consensus (as far as there is one) seems to be that the post-9/11 surveillance techniques of the NSA over-reach even the provisions of the Patriot Act, the law allowed for just a little ...more
Casey Hampton
I harbor substantial feelings about Edward Snowden, but this review isn't about my personal feelings, it's about Luke Harding's work. So whether you view Snowden as a hero, or a traitor, I think this book is worth your time and attention.

The text is accessible, the information is intriguing, but the book is bias, and its subjective slant mars what would have been an enjoyable reading experience. And I feel this is a tragedy to some extent, as the subjective angle was unnecessary. This would have
Satya Ananthu
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This dude has balls of steel. Being in the bad books of US government and not getting caught is no easy feat to pull off. That shows how smart he is.

He never went to college, but made it to the IT department of NSA. It was possible only because of the openness of this country in recognizing and encouraging talent. On the other hand, the same country silently spies on its citizens and almost everyone on the planet. It's like setting your teenage child free and tracking their movements secretly by
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Story was fascinating and horrifying at the same time. I followed the Edward Snowden storey in the news but was not aware of the sheer enormity of the snooping done by the NSA and GCHQ (in the UK) that he uncovered.
Which is to say literally billions of phone calls and emails by pretty much all Americans and Brits and a large part of the planet, foreign leaders and close allies, US companies, Foreign companies that had nothing to terrorism. Building in back doors to encryption software, goin
Chaz Hitz
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you are like me. I barely noticed the Edward Snowden affair that spread throughout the media like a wild fire this past summer and fall. All I knew was that he leaked national secrets out of the NSA. The official U.S. spy agency known as the “National Security Agency” or “Not Secret Anymore” thanks to Mr. Snowden’s actions. I really didn't care at the time but I do now. I have just finished reading a book titled “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man (Vintage)” by ...more
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Scary, more frightening than a horror movie. The uncovered truths, revelations, lies that the U.S. and British governments have weaved is beyond belief. EVERYONE is spied on, no one is immune by the machinations of the NSA and GCHQ. Spying on the President of Brazil, spying/listening to Angela Merkel's private phone messages, millions of American, Latin, European, Middle Eastern and Asian citizens - no problem. We have become entrapped in a survilence state where these agents are so paranoid ! A ...more
Lino's Version
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The Snowden Files
Luke Harding

While this is a story that needed to be told…it is almost too Hollywood to believe. BIG BROTHER is here and most people accept that it is justified for our safety. But what is safety without freedom?
Who is afraid of the first amendment? Why those with and in power of course, for they do not want that power threatened.
There is a good magazine article in this book. Unfortunately the material is thin and repetitive for a 300+ page book.
So while it is a story that n
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book tells the complete story of Snowden. Freedom of the press is indeed very important in a well functioning democracy. Snowden had revealed to the whole world the extent of surveillance that the NSA is performing continuously. Gone are the days of wire-tapping and hidden cameras for suspects; now everyone's electronic communications are stored for analysis forever, and they can listen to anyone in the planet.

I had learnt a great deal about Snowden through this book.
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Luke Harding's The Snowden Files is a well-constructed overview of the biggest intelligence leak in history - but it is not without its flaws.

The Guardian journalist tells a detailed story of Edward Snowden - from his childhood in a military, Republican family, his short education and brief, failed army career, to his meteoric rise through the intelligence services that eventually enabled him to turn whistleblower.

It's an intriguing tale. Far from being a left-wing radical, Snowden is a staunch
Martin Pabiš
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, this is James Bond story which is actually true. Must read.
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The beginning of the Snowden Files by Luke Harding is quite promising. You have a feeling like you're reading a spy novel. The story begins with Snowden having a somewhat normal life, working for the NSA and living in Hawaii with his girlfriend. But, as we all know, one day Snowden disappears with hundreds of top secret files and the hunt begins. He ends up in Hong Kong where he meets journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill.

This was the most interesting part of the book fo
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been wanting to read this for some time , This is a story of uncovered truths, Personally I feel that Edward Snowden did the right thing, The abnormality of his discoveries and his resolve to tell the world was fascinating, but also horrifying.

This was a really interesting book, Edward Snowdon gave up everything - his country, home and family so the world would know the truth about the subversive nature of information gathering. He wanted change and accountability and wouldn't be silenced.
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Edward Snowden and internet laws continues. By now everyone will have heard the latest, and if not do so now because it concerns you.
Fear factor. What is it and how is it? A lot of people subscribe humans fears as: the unknown, invisible threats and what is beyond our control. Now many of us know of the invisible threats, quite a few of us as children were afraid of the dark and monsters under the bed. Racism is fear of the unknown. You don't really know that person or what it's lik
I read _The Snowden Files: The Inside History of the World's Most Wanted Man_ and _The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin_ concurrently: a chapter of one, then a chapter of the other. Quite a contrast between the two world-shakers. Both books are well written by respected journalists, a Brit and a Russian.

On the one hand, Snowden, a brilliant and idealistic young man who, in his high-level IT system administrator job, had access to almost all documents in the U.S. Intelligen
Angus Mcfarlane
I have not followed the unfolding of Snowden's leaks or those of Julian Assange, so this story was enjoyably fresh. And having only just finished 'The Code Book' the theoretical dilemma between crime fighting and privacy and the respective restriction/free access on strong encryption, Snowden's story came as a timely example of the practicalities. And then my daughter started reading 1984 for school, reminding me of the dire picture painted of the intrusive state spying agency, and the thought t ...more
John Kaufmann
Apr 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Good summary of the Snowden NSA leaks. It recounts the story of what happened: Snowden's work and exposure to this information; his decision to release the files; his flight from Hawaii; his contacting Glen Greenwald and the Guardian; the security measures Snowden took to secure the files, both for secrecy and to keep the information from falling into foreign hands; the substance of the NSA files; the Guardian's wrestling with the issues; the publication of the information and the response of th ...more
Kelly Newton
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A couple of times this year I've encountered a book that I learned a lot from, but wasn't completely entertained by. It's a weird category, but an important distinction to make because entertainment isn't the only (or even the most important) criteria for suggesting a book. This is one of those books.
This is important. If you don't understand who Edward Snowden is or why he's significant, or what our government permits itself to do, then I would suggest this book. If you already know these thin
A marvellous book that reads like a Frederick Forsyth thriller - except it is all true. I had not paid enough attention to Edward Snowden and the NSA so sought to rectify that with this book and I'm glad I did because I cannot imagine a better introduction to the subject. Harding includes all the main characters from Snowden himself to Glenn Greenwald and co to the role of the Guardian and the New York Times as well as the UK government in the story. So all the complexities of this fascinating s ...more
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Luke Daniel Harding is a British journalist working as a foreign correspondent for The Guardian. He was the correspondent of The Guardian in Russia from 2007 until, returning from a stay in the UK on February 5, 2011, he was refused re-entry to Russia and deported back the same day. The Guardian said his expulsion was linked with his critical articles on Russia, while Russia's foreign ministry sai ...more

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30 likes · 21 comments
“Snowden’s itinerary does, however, seem to bear the fingerprints of Julian Assange. Assange was often quick to criticise the US and other western nations when they abused human rights. But he was reluctant to speak out against governments that supported his personal efforts to avoid extradition.” 3 likes
“The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland observes that Britain ‘has a fundamentally different conception of power to, say, the United States’. It doesn’t have a Bill of Rights or a written constitution, or the American idea that ‘we the people’ are sovereign. Rather, the British system still bears the ‘imprint of its origins in monarchy’, with power emanating from the top and flowing downwards. Britons remain subjects rather than citizens. Hence their lack of response towards government intrusion.” 2 likes
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