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Permanent Record

Written by: Edward Snowden
Narrated by: Holter Graham
Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
5 out of 5 stars (256 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. 

In 2013, 29-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. 

©2019 Edward Snowden (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What members say

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Privacy is a fundamental right

Recently I, like the world, have been thinking a lot about online privacy. My gadgets-loving husband owns both Google Home and Amazon Echo. He encouraged me to back up all my photos on Google Photos. Our TV is connected to the internet and during some paranoid moments, I have wondered if the TV was watching us just as we were watching it. I am on all social media platforms - but I was more worried about computers reading between the lines and knowing my location than the content I actually put out for my friends to look at. But I cannot imagine a world where I don’t use the TV or Google Photos or Social Media.

So when I picked up this book, I did so under the pretence of learning to be safe online. But the truth is I wanted to learn the steps I can take that makes it okay to use the gadgets. In other words, it is okay if someone in the NSA is reading this review and watching me mouth the words as I type it but how do I make sure that them having this data doesn’t harm me. There lies the problem.

I have become so dependent on the comfort that all these platforms give by invading my privacy that I didn’t for a second think of it as a violation of my fundamental rights.

But this book wasn’t more groundbreaking revelation about the US surveillance program or 10 Ways to be Safe on the Internet. This was a story about a boy who grew up with computers in a time when the internet was free. Free of government interference, free of corporate greed, and full of people seeking a connection with people all over the world. It’s the story of a patriotic man who very quickly understood that serving the government and serving the country are not one and the same.

Edward Snowden gives us a detailed account of his life to show us why he did what he did. He talks about how he joined the IC to serve the country post 9/11 and about the feeling of betrayal he felt when he discovered how the tools and programs he built for the US government were being used. He talks about how he went about stealing the files that later shocked the world. And he talks about how he felt when he put his affairs in order and said goodbye to life as he knew it for the last time.

This is a deeply moving, well-written memoir about a brave man who also happened to be smart. It gives me hope to know that people like him exist. And yes, he has taught me to value my privacy, which is the first step.

The narrator of the book, Holter Graham, also did a great job! I had to remind myself that it was not actually Edward Snowden's voice I was listening to because there was so much passion in the narration. It was very clear though once I watched a video of Snowden actually speaking!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

eye opener

one of the best book so for I read even I writing this comment means someone tracking my activity

2 people found this helpful

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Better than expected

Edward Snowden refuses to be stereotyped! He comes out as a visionary, philosopher, and a normal human being, in addition to all he has been in the quest for a free and better society for everyone.

1 person found this helpful

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Incredible insight into the life of selfless hero

Having grown up around the same timeline as Snowden, I had similar encounters with technology and even now have a web design job except I didnt have a crush.

I vividly remember those dailup modem days of internet and online forums like digitalpoint used to be my hang out spots before social media. Luckily back in the day we where aware of our online trail and kept it pretty clean. Even today I try my level best to keep a very close tab on what information I share online.

If you are into technology you can pretty much see the use of every connected device for surveillance. Those in corridors of power crave for control and with private information their tasks become easier.

Mass surveillance is a reality and surveillance states with AI and facial recognition is giving unprecedented power at the hands of the govt. Like we are seeing in HongKong, the odds are stacked against the average Joe.

The governments and corporate companies around the world are collecting data on such an enormous scale, passively, and creating a permanent record for everyone..

This should scare everyone of us

If it did Snowden wouldnt have to be a whistleblower and branded a traitor



1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely amazing!

His story is that of heroism and selfless love for his country. He risked his life, his way of life for what he belived to be right. Their love story is inspiring too. If you're looking to buy the book, don't hesitate. you'll not regret buying it. although, it may be a little costly for some. have a great read!

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Must listen for ppl who trust the internet

Must listen for ppl who trust the internet .Much respects for Hero of our lifetime Edward Snowden...

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Struggled to finish

I was waiting for something interesting till the end. I wonder why this book is getting high ratings by most readers :(

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A must read in the time of censorship and snooping

It was so encouraging to read how Mr. Snowden threw all the personal comforts to stand up for what he believed in it. This world will thank him for the sacrifice he has done for the benefit of the citizens of this world.

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More than just a memoir

A book that every generation should read. You get to know a boy whose heart is always in the right place, how he stood up and sacrificed his life for the people, for the greater good.

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A must read for everyone who uses a smartphone

Snowden did an amazing job of putting together how from a 90's teenager he grew up to be a brave whistle blower. it's genuine , honest.

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  • Nelson Jonas/zulaika zurita
  • 28-09-19

Revealing and immensely sad

I loved the whole thing. Learnt quite a bit about the violations performed by governments and private companies on our privacy, but also about the bravery of Edward himself and the sadness of his story.

This book has fully opened my half closed eyes and I now feel inspired to do something about the situation. Exactly what I am not sure. We'll see.

6 people found this helpful

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  • David Robinson
  • 05-11-19

History will call him a Hero

When I first saw the breaking news about the leaked documents I called him a traitor, but over time and as more information came to light that view changed.

Listening to his story I feel ashamed I ever thought he was a traitor and I would like to think that if i was in his shoes that I would have the courage to do what he did.

Privacy is a fundamental right and he will be seen as a hero in the long run. Thank you for your service and what you did.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Joe Cincotta
  • 27-10-19

Compulsory Reading

This book should be compulsory reading for high school students - and I would recommend this book for everyone.

An example of how to act aligned with your principles. An eye opening look into the surveillance state and the surveillance economy. A guide to encryption and personal security in a digital world. A thrilling story. A moving memoir. All in one book.

Well written, well read (audiobook). My respect for Mr Snowden grew deeper with this book and I enjoyed it immensely.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-10-19

He dared to tell, dare to listen?

This is a very well written testimony, a thrilling story of the citizen Edward Snowden and his choice to tell us about an ongoing attack on our freedom by the systematic collection, storing and processing of our personal data, our personal life’s. Despite his personal cost, he chose to tell the story only he could tell. It is a breathtaking story, that most likely will change the way you feel about your devices and their cameras. It is a story we all should listen to - if you dare.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Miss Valda Petersen
  • 12-11-19

Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

I absolutely loved this book. If you’re someone with any technology in your life and you’re on social media or online, you need to read this book. Edward Snowden’s story is mind boggling and moving. He has sacrificed so much to do the right thing. 😃 I am also amazed at how much I could relate to his upbringing and his love of tech. His story reminded me of my own journey of discovery and the wonder of getting to know the World Wide Web. His insights on the state of technology and the Internet are thought provoking and I believe quite accurate. 5 stars for this book!

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  • W. Eric
  • 09-10-19

Great book, fantastic narration

I was long waiting to understand the man and his ideologies behind Edward Snowden. The storyline and -structure is captivating from the beginning to the end. Every point he makes to justify his actions, is completely valid and demonstrates very well how corrupt and broken our system is. I can only press anyone to read or listen to this book

2 people found this helpful

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  • michael atkinson
  • 29-11-19

Classic

excellent book. 10 times better than Snowden movie. hes a real life hero. would of been better if he had of voiced it himself

1 person found this helpful

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  • Con Tsonis PhD
  • 24-11-19

Excellent

Excellent account. Great to learn more about who he was and why he risked everything! Brave to do what he did. Thank you Edward.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-11-19

Beautiful truth

This book makes thnk twice about being on my device and how i should be aware this happening

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-11-19

Just what the World Needed.

If you use a smartphone, buy this book. If you use a laptop, buy this book . If you are living in the 21st century, buy this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Pen Name
  • 18-10-19

Superbly written, totally gripping.

I can't recommend it highly enough.
I imagine just about everyone on the planet knows the general gist of Edward Snowden's story and his place in history. I followed his story carefully, watched interviews, watched Citizenfour, and the Stone movie. But the details revealed in this book still made my jaw drop. I had to replay several sections to make sure I wasn't hearing things.Truly scary stuff.
Snowden, I'm sure, was an extremely meticulous programmer/analyst/administrator. That fact doesn't necessarily guarantee he's going to be a good writer. But he most certainly is; the writing is superb, beautifully crafted, compelling stuff.
I've had a career in IT, so the technical stuff was of great interest to me. And it's detailed so clearly that someone without a technical background would still understand it.
The narration is excellent too, read by someone who seems to genuinely understand what he's reading, and to convey it 'from the heart'. An absolute must-read/must listen. And if, in writing this review, I've now appeared on some watch list somewhere: great! - I'm in excellent company!

14 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-09-19

such a great insight into Edward Snowdens life

I loved the book and just couldn't put it down, it gave a real insight to him growing and getting to where he is today. He is a very clever man and one that will go down in the history books!
To Ed, thank you for sharing your stories and your adventures and I hope you and Lindsey live happily.
To NSA/CIA thanks for listening and looking up my nose! 👍🏼

11 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-10-19

Beyond Belief

If this was a fiction work you would’ve said it’s a bit far fetched. The fact that the US Government is upset at this book’s release says it all. Technical details are explained in a clear & engaging manner. It’s very well written and was hard to put down. My favourite book of the year. It’s very important to be informed.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Paul S
  • 30-09-19

Thoughtful, eye opening, very personal biography

What a great listen. A great book with a tremendous true story. Hard to put down. Turkey world changing

7 people found this helpful

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  • Alex
  • 26-09-19

Unbelievable

The fight for privacy as a basic human right continues!
I feel complete administration for Snowden, risking everything to stand for truth!
I hope to meet him one day!

7 people found this helpful

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  • markj
  • 14-10-19

Listen to this!

A fascinating insight into the truth behind the headlines as well as into Snowden himself. With the daily flow of news we often lack the perspective to see how events lead one to another, and Snowden does a good job of trying to explain in straightforward language how 9/11 and the political changes - not just in the US, but globally - in the subsequent years, opened the way to intelligence gathering on a massive and indiscriminate scale. For those who think that privacy is something on which we can compromise or - worse still - a commodity, this is a cautionary account.

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  • Aaron Shimmons
  • 24-10-19

Very enjoyable and informative

I highly recommend this book. It went into enough detail to document how/why/what next for Ed the famous whistleblower

4 people found this helpful

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  • Toby
  • 22-09-19

A good summary

Enough detail to provide context. Some interesting asides. Not so much to be gratuitous

A good cap on the episode. Hopefully not the end of the story.

4 people found this helpful

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  • D. Kirwan
  • 27-09-19

Turnkey Architecture of Oppression

Very easy to read, would recommend this book, very informative.
Having read this book, I'm on a list, forever.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Catshark
  • 16-10-19

Everyone should read this book

Whatever you think of Ed Snowden's actions, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It gives the listener a fascinating insight into the world of modern spying.

5 people found this helpful

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  • daniel
  • 06-11-19

absolutely amazing

Edward Snowden is a hero to the entire world this book is a MUST GET

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ash Fielding
  • 04-11-19

Snowden - a modern day hero

Amazing work from Snowden. Exposing corruption in governments worldwide. He is a true hero.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-12-19

if only it was read by Snowden

would have been nice to hear Snowden himself read this, but was great regardless
recommended

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  • Djamba
  • 12-11-19

Must read for everyone in the modern world

Absolute MUST READ (or listen) book for anyone who uses a pc, smartphone, email or social media. This guy is a true blue hero who gave up bus entire life to expose disgusting overreach of government surveillance in our lives.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 11-11-19

Inspirational!!!

This should be added to every modern history curriculum around the world.

PS. Hello NSA

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  • Michael W. Gilmore
  • 09-11-19

Brilliant! Brave! Bravo!

A must read/listen book for everyone. The abuse of power and technology is truly freighting. Thank you Ed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tooraj
  • 16-10-19

Every story has two sides

Every story has two sides!

I enjoyed hearing Edwatd’s side of the story. You be your own judge as to which side of the story you believe!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-05-20

A Must Read for Living in the Digital Age

Clear, cogent and highly interesting. Thought provoking content and raises serious questions/concerns about government capabilities. Definitely recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-04-20

Great Book, Amazing Story

Ed is truly a hero. This is such a great book and I can not recommend it enough.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-04-20

Thank you for your courage!

Great explanation of the world we live in. Thank you Mr Snowden for your courage