An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: In May of 2013, Edward Snowden, a young systems administrator contracting for the National Security Agency, fled the United States for Hong Kong, carrying with him thousands of classified documents outlining the staggering capabilities of the NSA.’s surveillance programs–including those designed to collect information within the U.S. There Snowden arranged a meeting with Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, and so began the most explosive leak of classified material since the Pentagon Papers, over 40 years ago. No Place to Hide opens with Greenwald’s tense account of his initial cloak-and-dagger encounters with Snowden, then transitions into descriptions of the NSA’s vast information-collection apparatus, including a selection of the “Snowden files” with commentary on the alphabet soup of agencies and code names. And–in typical Greenwald style–the book is packed with his opinions on government snooping, its legality, and the impacts on our Constitutional freedoms. Whether you consider Snowden a whistleblower crying foul on government overreach, or a self-aggrandizing traitor who put national security at risk, Greenwald’s book is thrilling and enlightening, a bellwether moment in a crucial debate.
In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden’s disclosures.
Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.
Going beyond NSA specifics, Greenwald also takes on the establishment media, excoriating their habitual avoidance of adversarial reporting on the government and their failure to serve the interests of the people. Finally, he asks what it means both for individuals and for a nation’s political health when a government pries so invasively into the private lives of its citizens—and considers what safeguards and forms of oversight are necessary to protect democracy in the digital age. Coming at a landmark moment in American history, No Place to Hide is a fearless, incisive, and essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.