A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who was among the first to report on Edward Snowden's leaks documenting mass government surveillance looks back on one of the 21st century's biggest stories and its implications for the future of journalism and national security.
... engrossing ... His wariness makes Gellman a thorough, exacting reporter; it also makes him a marvelous narrator for this particular story, as he nimbly guides us through complex technical arcana and some stubborn ethical questions. Instead of rushing toward a conclusion, he hangs back. He’s clear about what he knows and what he doesn’t. He deploys plenty of metaphors, not to adorn the stakes but to clarify them. He shows how discussions of medieval ramparts and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon are surprisingly pertinent to the architecture of mass surveillance ... His voice is laconic and appealingly wry ... would be simply pleasurable to read if the story it told didn’t also happen to be frighteningly real.
... a major contribution largely absent in the earlier efforts ... Gellman offers the most detailed, comprehensive and balanced take on the impact of Snowden's 2013 revelations and what they mean today, as the debate on national security versus individual privacy keeps evolving ... Gellman offers a very human portrayal of Snowden: a loner, filled with zeal and a black-and-white worldview ... all this back-and-forth, between Gellman and Snowden, and Gellman and national security officials, is the best part of a compelling book.
Gellman wants us to know that he’s not in the pocket of Big Snowden, and he flaunts his independence throughout Dark Mirror ... Rather than make Gellman seem more objective, the tough-guy talk—especially so late in the game—only makes Snowden seem more guileless, saintly ... Where Dark Mirror shows the advantage of Gellman’s...methodical approach is in its second half ... You can read parts of it as a defense of journalism’s utility at a moment of intense anxiety. It’s a weird time to make that argument. There are a lot of things to expose, but then, nothing happens ... In an early conversation with Verax, Gellman shares an anecdote that reads as a parable. In 1977 he was writing on his high school paper when the principal killed a story about birth control. Aggrieved, Gellman filed a First Amendment lawsuit against her in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The school district 'ran out the clock'—bogged him down in delays—and the principal threatened to write a scarlet-letter note in Gellman’s college file. 'The lasting lesson . . . was how easily we were crushed,' he tells Snowden. The lasting lesson of Dark Mirror is that sometimes you aren’t crushed.