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No Place to Hide

Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
Written by: Glenn Greenwald
Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
Length: 9 hrs and 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 10-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.

©2014 Glenn Greenwald (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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An eye opener

I knew the story well but I didn't know this in so much detail. It is well organised and arranged and reveals the full story wonderfully.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Alfredo Ramirez
  • 22-11-14

Best Read in Print Format

What did you like best about No Place to Hide? What did you like least?

I liked the inside look at the NSA revelations and feel that this is a great book, on the whole. However, the preponderance of NSA documents that are included, verbatim, in the text makes the audiobook suffer significantly. I don't know how many times I heard the phrase "REL to USA, NO FORN" or "TS/SCI". While I recognize that the documents themselves are an important part of the story Greenwald is telling, I think that such a format lends itself better to being read in print rather than having dozens and dozens of memos narrated to you.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The first third of the book wherein Greenwald describes initially meeting Snowden and the events that led up to the NSA revelations.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I think the narrator did a fine job and I was happy with his performance.

32 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • Dean
  • 25-08-14

Excellent! Engaging, thoughtful, and illuminating

This is a very well-written book, that works well as an audiobook as well because of its fast pace and engaging material. I followed the NSA revelations closely, but this book gives more depth and context. It's as much a book about the fragile state of journalism as it is about the pervasiveness of surveillance. A no-brainer for a download, and one of the five-star audiobooks that also justify a print version in my home library.

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Tommi Joentakanen
  • 01-09-14

Exhilarating, infuriating, cannot stop listening

Would you consider the audio edition of No Place to Hide to be better than the print version?

I have not read the print version

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Ganser have perfectly captured how unreal the experience of meeting Snowden felt. It really feels like you're listening to a fictional spy story and when it's all true it sends shivers through your spine.

Have you listened to any of L. J. Ganser’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not. This one was excellent though.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I have been aware of these type of things being done by the NSA for some years now and when the Snowden revelations started to surface in the mainstream media I felt relieved and vindicated. Now that I listen to this audiobook I just feel excited about the story and angry and frustrated about the details.

Any additional comments?

Better reserve some time because this audiobook won't let you go for hours.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • K. Hanley
  • 09-09-14

Doesn't translate well to audiobook format.

What did you like best about No Place to Hide? What did you like least?

When he's not talking about the NSA, this is a book by Glenn Greenwald about Glenn Greenwald. It makes all the mentions of Mr. Snowden very interesting, as the juxtaposition between Mr. Greenwald writing about himself and his own flaws and Mr. Greenwald writing about Mr. Snowden creates an image of "Snowden as savior." I'm not saying this negatively, as I respect Mr. Snowden. This Snowden as savior theme kept running through my head while I was listening to the first chapter, and I am very curious if Mr. Greenwald's focus on himself amps the savior image.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

I feel like this is sighted privilege, but much of the book doesn't seem to be written to be read out loud. The author starts backing up his claims with block quotes starting in the middle of chapter 2. These block quotes are full of acronyms and the way they are interspersed with the text break the flow of narration. It's something that I would happily have in front of me, but is pretty difficult to follow on your car stereo. That said, this is more of a problem with the text and the way it can be performed than the narrator himself.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric Schurr
  • 30-09-15

Starts great but turns into a sermon on privacy

This book is purportedly about the Edward Snowden story, and it starts out telling that story but it becomes something much different. The Snowden story is really interesting and feels like a real-life thriller. But 1/3 of the way through the book it devolves into the author's pontifications on privacy, government surveillance, and so forth. I got really tired of hearing him talk about it all. I stopped listening.

One other thing to be aware of: this is a hard book to listen to (as vs. read). The narrator does an excellent job, but a good part of the book is composed of excerpts of the documents Snowden stole, and it's painful to hear the narrator read all the little details, including all the arcane government acronyms and terms ("No Forn...Target, Five Is...Subject: DISA counter actions for XYZ). It will drive you batty.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin
  • 19-08-14

powerful

What did you love best about No Place to Hide?

Informative. Makes you want to live off the grid.

What does L. J. Ganser bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Smooth narration

Any additional comments?

"In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." 
-Thomas Jefferson

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • 07-09-14

Agree or Disagree, Everyone Should Read This

This book begins like a mystery novel and expands into a wide ranging expose of the NSA documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. It then concludes with an expansive analysis and critique of the NSA, government officials, and, especially, the mainstream media.

I began this book with few preconceptions where it would lead. I was highly disturbed by revelations regarding the NSA, but also cognizant of the real danger posed by terrorism.

One thing that comes through from the outset is Snowden's sincere belief in what he did and his courage. As Greenwald points out repeatedly, Snowden made no effort to conceal his involvement and knew that doing so would almost certainly ruin his previously comfortable life.

The revelations regarding the NSA and the prior deception regarding the scope of its program--and the rather complete lack of meaningful oversight--are highly disturbing. Why does the NSA believe it needs to "collect everything" instead of using a targeted approach focusing on likely sources of danger?

Greenwald is at his best in making the case against mass surveillance. As he points out persuasively, people modify their behavior just by the threat of surveillance, and mass surveillance is the antithesis of a free society as history should have already taught us time and again.

Greenwald also makes impressive indictments against politicians who regularly and reflexively defend surveillance no matter how absurdly broad and unfocused it may be. And the Constitution gets lost in the wringer of life inside the Beltway.

Greenwald also swings for the fences and delivers in his indictment of the mainstream media. The mainstream media consist of lapdogs, pliantly doing the bidding of politicians. As Greenwald points out, the Obama Administration has not only carried on the Bush era programs, but has expanded them, with rarely an eyebrow raised in the media, especially a fawning media that (until recently at least) was willing to swallow and parrot whatever drivel the Administration chose to peddle.

Greenwald gets off target, in my judgment, in criticizing the NSA for studying the economic interests of foreign nations and industries in foreign nations. Of course the NSA (and the State Department) need to be fully aware of the such interests, as they often define policy interests and drive foreign policy decisions. This is far different than spying on all Americans.

Greenwald also, in my judgment, loses momentum in minimizing the threat posed by terrorism, particularly violent Islamic terrorism. While it may be true that a person (at least to date) is more likely to die of a lightning strike than in a terrorist attack, Greenwald ignores the damage that, for example, the 9/11 attacks did to the U.S. economy and our way of life. The reality is that it made a big difference. Greenwald's argument also pales--if not seems somewhat naive--in light of ISIS and other powder kegs around the world.

So perhaps Greenwald overstates in a few instances and gets off track in others. That does not detract from the importance of this book and the importance of what Snowden--with the help of Greenwald--revealed about what our government is doing to us.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • SLW
  • 18-02-16

Doesn't translate well into an audio book.

Would you listen to No Place to Hide again? Why?

No. Having the Snowden documents read to you makes this book very difficult to stick with.
Also, about half way through, the reader starts using an incorrect term (REL TO means "Releasable to" and he starts saying "Relative to") and it's very distracting.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Snowden's story is very interesting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Brett
  • 15-04-15

Not what I was expecting

I wanted to hear the back story of Edward Snowden. I wanted to hear about his life before, during, and after his disclosures. Snowden is discussed in the 1st quarter of the book but even this is superficial. The rest of the book discusses privacy and the NSA documents. I found this repetitive and boring. I also felt that Glenn Greenwald painted himself very favorably and so, to me, this book rang a little self serving and preachy.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Jordan Dunn
  • 14-09-15

Get the kindle version

As other reviewers have mentioned there's a large chunk of this book that is reading through NSA documents and a lot of acronyms are repeated, it would have been better to allow my eyes to skim it than having to hear it all every time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Timo van Weenen
  • 24-07-15

good book but might be better as a read

Where does No Place to Hide rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I enjoyed the book although the voice I had to get into. It started off well and an interesting story. However chapter 5 and 6 included more acronyms than can be found in silican valley and so listening to it did not really work. Might have been better to have read it instead.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • RJ Storey
  • 06-04-19

loved it

an instant favourite
I'll be listening again
loved the choice of narrator
really great author

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  • Berty
  • 30-03-19

Excellent

A must read book. Value your privacy, then you need to read this book to understand how it is being undermined by our very governments.

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  • Lord Peridot
  • 25-03-18

State of surveillance

Greenwald's book is a brilliant and sobering account of his crucial involvement in the reporting and release of the NSA security files by Snowden in 2013. He goes on to describe some of the documents themselves and their significance to civil privacy and international espionage. Finally he discusses the woeful state of the mainstream US media and how even the respected NY Times immediately attacked Snowden and himself often making false innuendos and allegations.

Greenwald is an excellent writer as well as being a courageous journalist, so the book reads easily and is indeed read very well by Mr. Ganser. The chapter on the NSA files takes a bit of stamina to get through as it involves listening to a lot of NSA jargon and repeated use of NSA phrases and acronyms. But there is a point to that. It brings home the attitude of the spying services and their unbridled, mechanical enthusiasm for eavesdropping on anything and everything.

Releasing state secrets is obviously a contentious matter. But if those secrets reveal routine lying and illegal behaviour by the security services then Snowden's action will be seen as laudable by many. And its no doubt significant that this was the reaction of Al Gore, Ron Paul and Jimmy Carter. Whereas Obama, Hilary Clinton and John Kerry all more or less condemned the man.

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  • Mr Godwin
  • 13-01-18

Great book

Loved it the story, some of it was a bit too technical. It has definitely made me more aware of internet privacy.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-05-17

Great book - not ideal for audio

What made the experience of listening to No Place to Hide the most enjoyable?

Greenwald's argument is very persuasive and well-evidenced. This book made me sit up and take more notice of privacy issues.

Any additional comments?

The parts where NSA files are read out get tedious - they'd be fine in print, but we don't need the full code number and title of every file to be read out for the audio version...

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-04-17

Brilliant insight into the reality of freedom in the West

Fantastic audio book. There was always a suspicion that the powerful US may be tapping in to people's lives but what this book reveals beggars belief. Shame on the US government for abusing democracy to invade the privacy of people.

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  • Ash
  • 05-04-17

Bought on mild interest but was gripped throughout

The subject matter is right up my street but I didn't expect to enjoy the book so much, I was surprised and loved it.

Perhaps it's a touch over long in places but all round Greenwald tells a great story of a remarkable time in his life and uses that story to illustrate the dangers of government overreach.

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  • Alison Harman
  • 25-03-17

Good but only the first few chapters are really a story

I enjoyed the first 3 or 4 first chapters which were the reason I bought the book in the first place.

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  • Honest Dude
  • 05-03-17

Provides an eye opening insight to digital privacy

After listening to this audio I have changed the way I feel on the subject

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  • Todd
  • 18-08-16

Better experienced as a read book

"No Place to Hide" gives us a great look into the circumstances surrounding one of the biggest leaks in US history. It can be broken up into three main parts. The first deals with Greenwald's contact with Snowden and their collaboration to leak the documents. The second part deals with the actual NSA systems and how they work. And finally the last section is basically an editorial commentary on surveillance and its abuse.

Whilst the first part is very interesting and revealing, the rest of book is bogged down by too much technical jargon and commentary. For example, well over an hour's worth of the audio is the actual reading of every line of certain NSA documents that were leaked.

All of it sounds roughly like "Top Secret. Com Int. Rel to USA. Five Eyes. Cont to...Redacted. Specify search parameters...etc." This goes on and on and on to the point that you just want to skip ahead or stop listening all together. This is why the book would be better read as opposed to heard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-05-19

Disturbing but fascinating

Well written, great narration and scary story. Slightly flabbergasted by the insights outlaid in this book and worth everyone reading to better understand the technology that works against them.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter J Birch
  • 23-01-17

Great read.

Narration was good, and very easy to listen to. Interesting account of the Snowden expose!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas
  • 26-09-16

to long and way to technical in the middle

great in the beginning.
good at the end. the last 2 chapters are very informative.
buy it to support the guy but skip the middle when he goes way overboard with technical details which could have been much better and much easier explained.

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  • Vincent
  • 06-02-15

Very frightening

Edward Snowden is more of a patriot than a villain in revealing the NSA's systemic invasion of each and everyone of their basic rights of privacy.