Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State
By Barton Gellman
"Engrossing. . . . Gellman [is] a thorough, exacting reporter . . . a marvelous narrator for this particular story, as he nimbly guides us through complex technical arcana and some stubborn ethical questions. . . . Dark Mirror would be simply pleasurable to read if the story it told didn’t also happen to be frighteningly real.” —Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times
From the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the New York Timesbestseller Angler, the definitive master narrative of Edward Snowden and the modern surveillance state, based on unique access to Snowden and groundbreaking reportage around the world.
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.
lluminating. . . . Newsworthy. . . . Dark Mirror stands out from all the other accounts. Gellman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Washington Post investigative reporter and author of Angler, an influential 2008 biography of Dick Cheney, didn’t just use the Snowden files as sources; he used them as starting points for deep, labor-intensive reporting.” —The Washington Post
“Gellman offers the most detailed, comprehensive and balanced take on the impact of Snowden's 2013 revelations and what they mean today, as the debate on national security versus individual privacy keeps evolving. . . . A compelling book.” —NPR
"An insider account of the breaking of Edward Snowden’s story and its wider implications for the modern world, all told in prose as gripping as a spy thriller.” —Christian Science Monitor
“A fine and deeply considered portrait of the US-dominated 21st-century surveillance state.” —The Guardian
“[A] thoughtful mix of reportage and revelation. . . . a necessary and deep meditation about how far our online lives can or indeed should remain completely private.” —Sunday Times (UK)