Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State
By Barton Gellman
Published by Penguin Press (May 19, 2020)
Edward Snowden touched off a global debate in 2013 when he gave Barton Gellman, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald each a vast and explosive archive of highly classified files revealing the extent of the American government’s access to our every communication. They shared the Pulitzer Prize that year for public service. For Gellman, who never stopped reporting, that was only the beginning. He jumped off from what Snowden gave him to track the reach and methodology of the U.S. surveillance state and bring it to light with astonishing new clarity. Along the way, he interrogated Snowden’s own history and found important ways in which myth and reality do not line up. Gellman treats Snowden with respect, but this is no hagiographic account, and Dark Mirror sets the record straight in ways that are both fascinating and important.
Dark Mirror is the story that Gellman could not tell before, a gripping inside narrative of investigative reporting as it happened and a deep dive into the machinery of the surveillance state. Gellman recounts the puzzles, dilemmas and tumultuous events behind the scenes of his work – in top secret intelligence facilities, in Moscow hotel rooms, in huddles with Post lawyers and editors, in Silicon Valley executive suites, and in encrypted messages from anonymous accounts. Within the book is a compelling portrait of national security journalism under pressure from legal threats, government investigations, and foreign intelligence agencies intent on stealing Gellman’s files. Throughout Dark Mirror, Gellman wages an escalating battle against unknown adversaries who force him to mimic their tradecraft in self-defense.
With the vivid and insightful style that is the author’s trademark, Dark Mirror is a true-life spy tale about the surveillance-industrial revolution and its discontents. Along the way, with the benefit of fresh reporting, it tells the full story of a government leak unrivaled in drama since All the President’s Men.
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About the Author:
Barton Gellman, a staff writer at The Atlantic, is the author most recently of Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State and the bestselling Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. He has held positions as senior fellow at The Century Foundation, Lecturer at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and visiting research collaborator at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy.
Before joining The Atlantic, Gellman spent 21 years at The Washington Post, where he served tours as legal, diplomatic, military and Middle East correspondent.
Gellman anchored the team that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of the National Security Agency and Edward Snowden. He was previously awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series on Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2002, he was a member of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for coverage of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. Other professional honors include two George Polk Awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, two Emmy awards for a PBS Frontline documentary, Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
Gellman graduated with highest honors from Princeton University and earned a master’s degree in politics at University College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. He lives in New York City.
- Barton Gellman website: Dark Mirror
- Barton Gellman website: Events, broadcasts & podcasts
- Barton Gellman in conversation with David Ignatius
- Barton Gellman in conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic editor-in-chief
- Barton Gellman in conversation with Jim Polk, president & CEO of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Ft. Worth
- Barton Gellman in conversation with Emily Bell, LIVE from New York Public Library