RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksI...found it uncharacteristically satisfying that Permanent Record included a chapter composed of extracts from [Snowden\'s girlfriend] Lindsay Mills’s diary. It was genuinely interesting to get an insight into how someone might cope with this very unusual situation being thrust upon them in a more candid tone than we generally get from the guarded Snowden throughout the rest of the book. These excerpts were all the more necessary, as this really is a book about the personal—no further details of public significance are released in this title, which is a work primarily of analysis and reflection ... while many parts of the book are truly gripping...it is the author’s underlying themes and motivations that truly deserve our attention ... It’s these little pieces of not-exactly-earth-shattering, but still pleasantly informative detail that help the book keep ticking over and compensate for the often distant tone of its author ... Snowden...methodically [explains] everything from SD cards, to TOR, to smart appliances, to the difference between http and https, to the fact that when you delete a file from your computer, it doesn’t actually get deleted. He bestows the same attention to detail on these subjects as he does describing the labyrinthine relationships of his various employers and the intelligence agencies, and this clarity helps turn the book into a relatable story about issues rather than a jargon-stuffed, acronym-filled nightmare ... a book, and a story, that is more about substance than style.
PanThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThis willingness to explore alternative politics is a clear strength of [the] book and what sets [it] apart in a market clogged with tomes that tend to be heavier on rants than original thinking. ... Brennan unconvincingly seeks to deal with the fact that his proposed exclusion will largely mirror historical oppression by emphasizing that he does not want to 'exclude people, or reduce their power, in order to express wrongful contempt or disrespect for any individuals, groups or races. Instead our goal is to produce better more substantively just policy outcomes.'
It is the central weakness of the book that at no point are criteria for what counts as a 'more substantively just outcome' elucidated ... At other points, Brennan’s ideas on what constitutes worthy political knowledge descend into trivia...the pattern of blaming people for not knowing things that are interesting to Brennan, but not necessarily to the people he is seeking to deprive of their vote, is carried throughout the book. For a person who argues for dispassionate reason, Brennan displays a strong bias toward his own ideology as the yardstick for those who will remain entitled to vote in epistocracy ... There are other weaknesses and inconsistencies in the book but they pale in comparison to what many would consider an inverted understanding of the relationship between the individual and collective will.