Permanent Record

Cover Permanent Record
Genres: Nonfiction

Some parts of it read almost like a spy novel. Did not know the extent of worldwide surveillance through the NSA/American IC was so far advanced already. Scary stuff and a must-read book for every responsible citizen who cares about online privacy in an era of increasingly widespread digitalization.
Just finished Edward Snowden's memoir Permanent Record.
Snowden is a wonderful writer, has been my hero since 2013 when he sacrificed
his way of life and his career on behalf of the American people and also people worldwide.

I loved reading about his childhood and coming of age when video games, and computing were new. It was fascinating hearing about the old and the new internet.

Also, I learned a great deal about computing, the U.S. intelligence agencies, the lack of oversight over them, personal computers, smart phones, privacy and internet security. Even though I was already well-versed in Snowden's history through Laura Poitras' documentary film Citizen Four and


various news accounts, I found the book to be exciting and could not put it down. (Well, given it was the audiobook that I was "reading", I should say "I could not let it go before Snowden's last word was said."

Loved and highly recommend this book!

Permanent Record
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User Reviews:

Guest 3 years ago

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is an autobiography that describes the author’s life and thought process. It spans from his childhood, where he spent his time using computers and on some occasions even hacking into information databases, all the way to his decision to release the critical information that detailed how the USA was creating a mass surveillance state. Edward Snowden was an employee at various different companies that were being hired by American intelligence agencies, such as the CIA, until he was able to leak the documents detailing how the USA was building a mass surveillance state. It is for this reason that I like this book. Whether you agree with Edward Snowden or not, an autobiography of a historically significant person is still quite important.
Other than that, I also like the general writing style of the book as it is used to teach the reader about various different problems inside of the United States surveillance system and government, all while describing the life of Edward Snowden. For example, Snowden describes how the United States surveillance agencies are often used to funnel money into large corporations. What basically happens is that large companies such as COMSO or BAE will lobby the government to have specific employment options available to them when they are hired by US intelligence agencies. These employment options will then involve the usage of government funds in order to give a certain percentage of an employee’s salary to the company directly, all while the government is paying for the salaries of the employees at these large corporations (118). This is all explained after Snowden talks about how these big companies were purposely bumping up his own salary in order to increase the wealth that is funneled to them by these government agencies.
Snowden is basically trying to provide important information about the flaws in the US government and intelligence agencies through the guise of describing his own life. This allows the information that Snowden is trying to present to be easily digestible, instead of being given in an extremely technical and boring manner. Because of the fact that this information is extremely important to the broader US population, this book is quite important. He also describes various arguments as to how the US government should function. For example, he makes the argument that the US should be much more transparent in its government’s actions, and it should be more resistant to corruption.
Despite all the praise I am giving Permanent Record, there is a pretty big issue that I have with the book. The issue being that the book will sometimes jump all over the place, or gloss over certain aspects of Edward Snowden’s life. For example, the book does not really provide that much detail when it comes to Edward Snowden’s military employment or military training. It also glosses over quite a lot of Edward Snowden’s education. Of course, it should be said that I am not Edward Snowden, and for all I know these parts of his life are relatively insignificant or boring. However, I don’t really think that this is the case.
Despite that criticism, I think that this is a really important and good book. It is both informative and interesting to read, and it is something that all Americans should engage with. In my opinion, the US government is quite dysfunctional right now, and it is important that the public knows specifically what is wrong with the US government and how it should change. It is for this reason that I am willing to give this level of praise to Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Guest 3 years ago

I enjoyed reading this very much. Generally speaking I am a biography fan and this cuts away all the rhetoric and misunderstanding that comes from the media and opinion journalists. To get information from a primary source is always a good idea in my estimation. Why ever you may think of Mr. Snowden, his is a compelling and controversial story.

Guest 3 years ago

This autobiography and explanation for his actions is very interesting. Having seen Citizen 4, and being a fan of Glenn Greenwood and Laura Poitras, and the Intercept, I was very pleased to read about this man, whose courage I admire. He is a hero, and I hope the case against him will be dismissed and he eventually will be welcomed home as the hero he is.

Guest 3 years ago

I was just at the start of my career when Edward Snowden revelations were storming the internet. It was just the start of the "smartphone era" in India and most of them, let alone me, were unclear on the extents to which this technology will influence our lives. So it is natural that privacy was never a part of our concern. It was not even thought about by any of us. It was a case of how much salt should I add to the food when I don't even have a kitchen. Fast forward to now, the salt taste is overpowering.

I watched CitizenFour during my lonely hours in Germany where I was so bored, or as Ed would put it in this book - in exile albeit it being a psychological one. I started off with a prejudice that CitizenFour was about a some leaked documents that showed the US Government spying on people, I thought it was specific people, not EVERYONE. Ed came across as a nerd (he is!) but his views in the documentary was more a social view. It was more about conscience and morale than political or citizenship duties. And then I came to know that he was in Russia in exile and due to the news spins I believed he defected to Russia and is now a spy for Russia.

This book not only gave an insight about the boy, the man, the nerd, the patriot, the lover, the son but it also gives Ed's account on why he did what he did and how he did it. It also gives a "verifiable" account of why he ended up in Russia. A brilliant rendition of what technology devoid of legislation would lead to.

Guest 3 years ago

Incredible! I hope we make your sacrifice worthwhile! We still have heroes and hope. Fantastic narrative

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