Permanent Record

Metropolitan: Holt. Sept. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9781250237231. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781250237248. BIOG
In 2013, American journalist and whistleblower Snowden (president, Freedom of the Press Fnd.) released, to sympathetic journalists, classified documents describing a U.S. mass-surveillance program capable of interfering with the lives of every person on earth. Here, he shares his experiences mostly working for international corporations that contracted with the Central Intelligence and National Security agencies. Snowden also relates his unorthodox childhood; by age 12 his obsessions with computer hacking and gaming replaced friends, school activities, and family relations. Following the 9/11 attacks, the author was determined to serve his country, which he did through computing skills, following a medical discharge during army basic training. Tediously lengthy and complex stories of his assignments will be most meaningful to computing professionals, as the most fascinating passages probe the concerns that drove him to release the top-secret report; how his life and that of his now wife was uprooted; and his life in Russia, which granted him asylum.
VERDICT For those fascinated by electronic spying or impassioned by the issue of privacy rights, Snowden’s memoir casts an enlightening view of the U.S. intelligence community despite sometimes being marred by cumbersome jargon.

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