Permanent Record

Book Cover: Permanent Record

“Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the US government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down.”

Permanent Record
By Edward Snowden
Published by Metropolitan Books, September 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-23723-1

In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.


Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, Permanent Record is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online—a man who became a spy, a whistleblower, and, in exile, the Internet’s conscience. Written with wit, grace, passion, and an unflinching candor, Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.

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About the Author:

Edward Snowden was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and grew up in the shadow of Fort Meade. A systems engineer by training, he served as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, and worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency. He has received numerous awards for his public service, including the Right Livelihood Award, the German Whistleblower Prize, the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, and the Carl von Ossietzky Medal from the International League of Human Rights. Currently, he serves as president of the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Reviews & Related Articles

The New York Times
Books of The Times: “In Edward Snowden’s New Memoir, the Disclosures This Time Are Personal
By Jennifer Szalai
Published Sept. 13, 2019 – Updated Sept. 17, 2019

“Snowden, of course, is the former intelligence contractor who, in 2013, leaked documents about the United States government’s surveillance programs, dispelling any notions that the National Security Agency and its allies were playing a quaint game of spy vs. spy, limiting their dragnet to specific persons of interest. Technological change and the calamity of 9/11 yielded new tools for mass surveillance and the incentive to use them.”



“Without belaboring his points, Snowden pushes the reader to reflect more seriously on what every American should be asking already. What does it mean to have the data of our lives collected and stored on file, ready to be accessed — not just now, by whatever administration happens to be in office at the moment, but potentially forever? Should such sensitive work be outsourced to private contractors? What entails effective “oversight” if the public is kept in the dark? When can concerns about “national security” slip into bids for unchecked power?”


Boing Boing
Permanent Record: Edward Snowden and the making of a whistleblower
By Cory Doctorow
Published September 24, 2019

Edward Snowden is, as far as I can tell, the rarest of whistleblowers: someone who was motivated purely by a commitment to principle.


At every turn, I have been impressed with Snowden’s thoughtful, principled, rigorous nature. He is, in some ways, a consummate sysadmin, one of those technical specialists whose conscientious mix of technical prowess, careful planning, attention to detail, and sense of duty make them unacknowledged legislators of the world, every bit as much as poets are.


In Permanent Record, Snowden’s memoir, we are given the best proof yet that Snowden is exactly what he appears to be: a gung-ho guy from a military family who believes deeply in service and the values embodied by the US constitution, who explored multiple avenues of squaring his oath to uphold those values with the corrupt and illegal practices he saw around him, and worked out a breathtakingly bold and ambitious plan to do what no one else had ever managed: to expose wrongdoing in a way that provoked sustained interest and sparked action, while relentlessly focusing attention on the misdeeds he was alarmed by, rather than on himself.


Permanent Record is an extraordinary book, and it’s hardly a surprise that Trump’s DoJ doesn’t want you to read it. Snowden says he’ll come back to the US to stand trial if he can argue the ethics of his actions to a jury. Permanent Record makes it clear just how persuasive that argument would be. Let’s hope he gets to make it, someday.


In the meantime, the whole world owes a debt to Edward Snowden, both for doing what he did, and, now, explaining how he did it, and, most importantly, why.


The Guardian
Snowden: ‘I was very much a person the most powerful government in the world wanted to go away’
Interview by Ewen MacAskill, Video by Laurence Topham
Published September 13, 2019

The man whose state surveillance revelations rocked the world speaks exclusively to the Guardian about his new life and concerns for the future

The world’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, says he has detected a softening in public hostility towards him in the US over his disclosure of top-secret documents that revealed the extent of the global surveillance programmes run by American and British spy agencies.


In an exclusive two-hour interview in Moscow to mark the publication of his memoirs, Permanent Record, Snowden said dire warnings that his disclosures would cause harm had not come to pass, and even former critics now conceded “we live in a better, freer and safer world” because of his revelations.


In the book, Snowden describes in detail for the first time his background, and what led him to leak details of the secret programmes being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s secret communication headquarters, GCHQ.


He describes the 18 years since the September 11 attacks as “a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts and secret wars”.


Snowden also said: “The greatest danger still lies ahead, with the refinement of artificial intelligence capabilities, such as facial and pattern recognition.


The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Edward Snowden – “Permanent Record” & Life as an Exiled NSA Whistleblower.
Interview by Trevor Noah
Published September 20, 2019

Edward Snowden discusses how his book “Permanent Record” sheds light on the evolving intelligence industry.


The Guardian
Interview – Edward Snowden: ‘The people are still powerless, but now they’re aware’ – Five years after historic NSA leaks, whistleblower tells the Guardian he has no regrets.
By Ewen MacAskill and Alex Hern
Published June 4, 2018

The Guardian
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden review – the whistleblower’s memoir
By Nick Hopkins
Published September 14, 2019

National Public Radio
Author Interviews – Edward Snowden Tells NPR: The Executive Branch ‘Sort Of Hacked The Constitution’
Listen to the interview
By Scott Simon & Meghan Collins Sullivan
Published September 12, 2019

National Public Radio
Books – Edward Snowden Tells His Story In New Memoir, ‘Permanent Record’
NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly and Scott Simon discuss Edward Snowden’s new controversial book, Permanent Record.
By Scott Simon
Published September 12, 2019

National Public Radio
Book Reviews – In ‘Permanent Record,’ Edward Snowden Says ‘Exile Is An Endless Layover’
By Greg Myre
Published September 13, 2019

The Washington Post
Review – Edward Snowden explains how he pulled off one of the largest leaks in U.S. history. In his memoir, he recounts how a Rubik’s Cube helped him expose government secrets.
By Greg Miller
Published September 13, 2019

Books – Seven things we learned from Edward Snowden’s new book. Edward Snowden has published his memoir, Permanent Record. Here are some key takeaways from the title.
By Matt Burgess
Published September 13, 2019

The New Yorker
Books – Edward Snowden and the Rise of Whistle-Blower Culture. In his memoir, he chronicles his life game by game, from Nintendo to the N.S.A.
By Jill Lepore
Published September 16, 2019

FutureSin – Edward Snowden’s New Book ‘Permanent Record’ is Out
By Michael K. Spencer
Published September 11, 2019

Y Combinator – Hacker News
Thread: Edward Snowden: Permanent Record

FutureTense – Noted Rule-Follower Edward Snowden Failed to Get Permission to Publish His Book or Give Speeches
By Aaron Mak
Published September 17, 2019

Law & Crime
Why Edward Snowden’s Coming Memoir, Permanent Record, Could Prove Costly
By Jerry Lambe
Published August 1, 2019

Boing Boing
US sues Edward Snowden, ‘Permanent Record’ violates NDAs ‘signed with CIA & NSA’ says Justice Department
By Xeni Jardin
Published September 17, 2019

The Hollywood Reporter
Government Seeks Edward Snowden’s Book Profits in Lawsuit Alleging NDA Violation
By Ashley Cullins
Published September 17, 2019

Snowden Sites & Links

Edward Snowden on Twitter
‏Verified account: @Snowden
Followers: 4.07 million
“Yesterday, the government sued the publisher of #PermanentRecord for—not kidding—printing it without giving the CIA and NSA a change to erase details of their classified crimes from the manuscript. Today, it is the best-selling book in the world.” —Edward Snowden

Freedom of the Press Foundation
”Defending and supporting cutting-edge transparency journalism in the face of adversity.”
On Twitter: @FreedomofPress
Website: Freedom of the Press Foundation

The Courage Foundation
Free Snowden: In Support of Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden on Facebook
By supporters of Edward Snowden