Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the U.S. government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down.
I...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.
... a riveting account and a curious artifact. The book is unlikely to change anyone’s mind about Snowden, but when it comes to privacy and speech and the Constitution, his story clarifies the stakes ... The second half of Permanent Record reads like a literary thriller ... weaves together personal intel and spycraft info, much of it technologically elaborate yet clearly explained.
...fascinating ... The closing part of the book is a riveting account of the way Snowden went about acquiring documentary evidence of the tools and approaches that the NSA developed in order to comply with the 'never again' orders they had received from their political masters in the wake of 9/11 ... He is also refreshingly frank about the emotional torment that this secretive project imposed on him, particularly his anguish at having suddenly to abandon his beloved girlfriend, Lindsay, without being able to give her any warning of what he was about to do. If anybody thinks that whistleblowing is easy, then they haven’t ever done it.