cover image The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man

Luke Harding. Vintage, $14.95 trade paper (346p) ISBN 978-0-8041-7352-0

In this first book published on the controversial whistleblower, Guardian foreign correspondent Harding (Mafia State) chronicles Snowden's emergence, the complicated logistics of his revelations and their publication, and the global political ramifications. The telling is sympathetic towards Snowden, offering at the outset significant background on his upbringing and his personal life, before reporting the rest: Snowden's contact with Poitras and Greenwald, his hiding in Hong Kong, the process and difficulties of publication in the Guardian and then the New York Times, the global repercussions, and his current Russian asylum. The book reads sometimes as a political thriller and the prose itself aims to thrill, too, by building suspense and reminding the reader constantly of the stakes. Altogether it mainly retells what has already been told, drawing on previously published interviews, articles, and press releases. Often, too, the exact sources are unclear. And while the story sometimes lacks in insight from those directly involved and in the analysis that will be possible as we get more temporal distance from the events, Harding provides crucial context and history for the story. His compilation and synthesis of the records is useful for a reader in need of a primer. (Feb.)