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The last book I read that scared me was Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm. This one scared me more because it's happening to all of us.
Here is presented the account, from the journalist who broke the story, of domestic spying by the NSA, of how Edward Snowden blew the whistle and made public this illegal activity.
The first part of the book described how Snowden approached the author to help him reveal the domestic surveillance taking place. The second part looked more closely at the documents themselves while the third looks at how living in a surveillance society effects the behavior and attitudes of the population. The last part of the books looks at how journalism in the US has changed over the past decades and just how it's independence has eroded.
It is a chilling story that should make anyone who reads it look at the nightly news and general main stream reporting with a cautious eye. Everything revealed in the book was previously embedded in my subconscious but it took reading it on the page to make me notice just how journalism favours the government. We seldom see the rogue journalist chasing corruption. Instead journalists are threatened personally and the owners of media corporations are coerced to sit on news items, sometimes for months at a time, or prevented from reporting outright.
Anytime you read a book like this you have to take a cautious approach so as not to get sucked in completely by the author. It's an important part of reporting but it is also a one-sided read. That said, what is truly important here, is the fact that these things ARE taking place. The NSA is gobbling up nearly all communications data on everyone. The government of the USA is funding and using all this information. Anything we do online, including reading this review, is tracked and recorded. Independent journalism is under great threat; there are only a few truly independent reporters left in the world.
But you can't let these revelations scare you into curling up in a ball and giving up on the Internet. It is also important to know that since the revelations of Snowden have been made public the tide is showing sign of turning. We live in a period of time that will eventually pass; it is always difficult to have perspective when we are in the middle of things.
What you will come away with is a new awareness of everything you say and do on-line. Every time you post on Facebook or do a Google search you will think of what you read in this book. Maybe it will stop you or maybe it will awaken a need to get a different view of things from sources that are defying the pressure to conform.
Very interesting reading.
You may also be interested in a current article of Snowden from Wired magazine.
|August 2014 issue of Wired Magazine - Edward Snowden|
For some independent journalism try The Intercept website in which Greenwald is a contributor.