Book Summary: Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden Book Cover

Permanent Record is a memoir written by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who leaked classified information about the agency’s mass surveillance programs. The book provides insight into Snowden’s personal life, his career in the intelligence community, and the events leading up to the 2013 NSA leaks.

Snowden was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and grew up in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. He was raised by his mother, a clerk at the Supreme Court, and his father, a career military man who later became an employee of the NSA. Snowden describes his family as “middle-class and conservative,” and he was encouraged to pursue a career in government or the military.

Chapter 2: Education and Career

After high school, Snowden enlisted in the U.S. Army and was trained as a special forces recruit. However, he was eventually discharged due to a broken arm. He then attended the University of Maryland, where he studied computer science and network security. After graduating, he worked as a security guard and a technical writer before becoming an NSA contractor.

Chapter 3: The NSA and Mass Surveillance

Snowden describes the NSA as a “black box” that few people understand, and he explains how the agency’s mass surveillance programs work. He reveals that the NSA collects data on millions of Americans, including phone calls, emails, and social media activity, and that this data is stored in massive databases that can be searched by government officials.

Chapter 4: The Leak

Snowden explains how he gained access to the NSA’s classified documents and how he decided to leak them to the media. He describes the process of copying the documents and transferring them to a flash drive, and he explains why he chose to work with journalists at The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Chapter 5: The Fallout

After the leaks were published, Snowden was charged with espionage and theft of government property. He fled to Hong Kong and then Russia, where he was granted asylum. He describes the stress and isolation of living in exile and the challenges of adjusting to life in Russia.

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In conclusion, Permanent Record is a thought-provoking memoir that sheds light on the NSA’s mass surveillance programs and the consequences of whistleblowing. Snowden’s story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of government overreach and the importance of protecting civil liberties. Whether you agree with Snowden’s actions or not, his book is a must-read for anyone interested in privacy, national security, and the role of government in our lives.

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