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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking exposé that convincingly challenges the popular image of Edward Snowden as hacker turned avenging angel, while revealing how vulnerable our national security systems have become - as exciting as any political thriller, and far more important.

After details of American government surveillance were published in 2013, Edward Snowden, formerly a subcontracted IT analyst for the NSA, became the center of an international controversy: Was he a hero, traitor, whistle-blower, spy? Was his theft legitimized by the nature of the information he exposed? When is it necessary for governmental transparency to give way to subterfuge?

Edward Jay Epstein brings a lifetime of journalistic and investigative acumen to bear on these and other questions, delving into both how our secrets were taken and the man who took them. He makes clear that by outsourcing parts of our security apparatus, the government has made classified information far more vulnerable; how Snowden sought employment precisely where he could most easily gain access to the most sensitive classified material; and how, though he claims to have acted to serve his country, Snowden is treated as a prized intelligence asset in Moscow, his new home.

©2017 Edward Jay Epstein (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Powerful and convincing." ( The Hollywood Reporter)
"In addition to giving a full and nuanced portrait of the man himself, Epstein details the shattering impact Snowden's theft and famous June 9, 2013, video announcement has had on the agency and the intelligence community worldwide. A riveting and informative work for both Snowden watchers and espionage buffs." ( Booklist)
"Nuanced...A wild and harrowing detective story and impressively evenhanded portrait of a very sticky case." ( Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A different way of looking at things

When I started listening to this book I was very sympathetic to Snowden's agenda - however when weighing in balance what occurred with what was portrayed I realize that Snowden is no hero - the US government is no saint - and that what media portrayed was spun so badly as to be considered false reporting

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Rewriting the narrative

I was conflicted about the Snowden story. I hold some libertarian values, although I have since come to believe libertarianism is rooted in idealistic naivety. . . A truly libertarian from of government is not practical given realities of human nature. Everyone is not an ethical humanist. Society benefits from protection of consequences, even unintended ones, of stupid and self-destructive decisions.

I challenge anyone that considers Snowden to be a patriotic hero to read this book, consider the facts, and explain why you still think he is an American patriot. There were other ways to accomplish his alleged mission without hand delivery intelligence to our political enemies. I am open minded, my mind can be changed, but it would take one hell of an argument to convince me is is not a narcissistic traitor. Much like Putin, he is a great liar. Convincing, sincere delivery. I completely understand how people find both Putin and Snowden credible and honest. Even when I KNOW Putin is lying, I find him believable. That might be the trait that Trump so admires about Putin--80% approval rating, in part, because he is a MUCH better liar than Trump. Trump is better than average liar, I think he is able to believe his own BS, but he is no Putin.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Well Done

A balanced analysis on the IC (past and present), the Contractor Industries that support the IC, those who've betrayed the IC (Ames, Hansen) their Russian "handlers" and the serial malingerer, covert narcissist that is Ed Snowden.

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An important book during a critical time

Ripped from the headlines here is the story that has captivated a nation .. the theft of national secrets. The author did a great job writing this book. It asks the question should the govt keep secrets from the public or risk it being leaked?

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Excellent and well-researched depiction

This book was extremely well-researched. The author explored many many different angles to the story and seems to present a very unbiased depiction of what occurred and what America lost because of Snowden. I learned a lot about this case, American and international espionage, and our intelligence agencies.

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  • TAG P.
  • South Carolina, US
  • 05-23-17

Yes! Well done

This was well researched, written and narrated.
I'm blown away at the lengths the author took to get this scoop

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interesting information

the book was slow in parts, but it was overall informative. need three words 3

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An eye opener

Very well researched and non biased recounting of the events of the greatest compromise of American security

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There's more to the story than headlines suggest.

Would you consider the audio edition of How America Lost Its Secrets to be better than the print version?

The audio edition is very good. I intend to go back and read the Kindle edition in order to give more "think" time to the complex issues & questions raised in the book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There is no favorite character...unless it's us. We want security. We want privacy. We want it all. Reality doesn't work that way. We have to become informed & make decisions.

What about Michael Bybee’s performance did you like?

A very calm but definite voice. Emphasis only as needed. Not over dramatized.

If you could give How America Lost Its Secrets a new subtitle, what would it be?

Known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.

Any additional comments?

An excellent book. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand privacy/security issues beyond sound bites, and comprehend the implications of Snowden's breach of our security.

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Excellent Investigative Report on Snowden Etc.

This will be an interesting read for anyone interested in the Snowden affair. The author avoids politicizing the events and offers a thorough and engaging description of Snowden's actions as well as relevant history of intelligence/counterintelligence. The book is a relatively objective, well-sourced study, containing a great deal of information and analysis often omitted or glossed over in portrayals of this often over-simplified topic.