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"Snowden" is a portrait of a brave young man standing up to the most powerful government in the world and, if not winning, at least reaching a stand-off, and in this way is an incitation to us all to measure our courage and listen to our consciences in asking ourselves what we might have done in his shoes.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-10
- Reviewer: Staff
It’s a safe bet that when a left-leaning political cartoonist like Rall (To Afghanistan and Back) authors an entire book about Snowden and his NSA whistle-blowing, it’s not going to be a hit job. Still, this simplistic chapbook throws uncritical glory over its subject. Rall begins with an overly simplified and frequently made parallel between the current state of surveillance and George Orwell’s 1984. Then he presents a pocket biography of Snowden, whose military service in 2003 failed ignominiously—he was discharged without finishing his training. Snowden then worked as an NSA security guard, quickly vaulting up the pay and responsibility scale (a potentially fascinating chain of events that Rall skips over). Snowden’s frustration in discovering the surveillance that the government insisted wasn’t happening is palpable but, again, barely explored. The dramatic decision to go public as a whistle-blower and flee the country is told in a crisp outline, but the broader issues are not engaged so much as flung at the reader in broadsides. The Snowden story is one of the greatest of our time, but Rall is not the one to deliver it in serious fashion. (Aug.)