For Newtown Review of Books:
No one knew who Edward Snowden was in May 2013 when he scraped 1.7 million classified documents from the National Security Agency from his post as a civilian contractor in Hawaii. By the end of June he would be the most wanted man in the world, having rocked the national security establishment of the United States to the core by revealing the mass surveillance of foreign nationals, world leaders, and, perhaps most damaging of all, American citizens.
Now, in early 2014, the documents he stole continue to feed news story after news story, even after Snowden himself has spent the last six months as a ‘guest’ of the Russian government. Yet these stories represent just the tip of Snowden’s iceberg, according to Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian and publisher of many of the surveillance revelations.
Luke Harding’s account of the Snowden story and its initial impact is thus timely, but also limited in its scope – it lacks the perspective that distance from the subject might offer. Fast-paced and journalistic in style, The Snowden Files offers a straightforward, accessible account of Snowden, the data he managed to ‘exfiltrate’ from the NSA, and the ‘epochal debate’ it engendered.