Book – Permanent Record
Author – Edward Snowden
Genre – Non-fiction
Publisher – Panmacmillan
Edward Snowden is one of the most interesting people of our generation and the reason why I put tape on the camera of my computer.
He was born a decade before me across the globe in America, but I could relate to so many moments of his life, when the first computer came home, the era of Mario, Pacman and endless video-game sessions and spending endless nights on the internet searching all the questions that came to my mind, all the questions that I was too scared to ask to anyone else but my new friend internet was there for me, answering all my questions at anytime I wanted.
“Throughout all thirty-two levels, Mario exists in front of what in gaming parlance is called “an invisible wall,” which doesn’t allow him to go backward. There is no turning back, only going forward—for Mario and Luigi, for me, and for you.” – except from the book.
I felt it when Snowden said ‘raised by the internet’ because in a way I also am and I also felt it when talked about how scary our old friend internet has become now, from privacy breeches to online bullying. This generation saw the boundaries between real and the virtual world slowly diffuse together.
People either think he is a hero or a traitor, whichever side are you on I’m not here to convince you otherwise because honestly I don’t know. But I know that he wrote a book that came out in fall 2019, and as soon I knew about it, I had to read it.
So coming to he book, it has a very minimalist design,that I really like. It is divided in three parts, which is more or less about his life before he worked for the American government,during his time there and whistleblowing and exile respectively.
I loved the part one, it was filled with memories of videogames that I loved growing up, Snowden grew up in America a decade before I grew up in India, but I felt so many similarities between the times, the first computer coming home, videogames, using the internet till late night, ofcourse I was not at all as cool as he was but I was very emotionally invested in his story.
“you aren’t really an adult until you bury a parent or become one yourself. But what no one ever mentions is that for kids of a certain age, divorce is like both of those happening simultaneously” –
Edward Snowden, Permanent Record
The part where he talks about his parents seperating and his sister moving out to collage, his untimely exit from the military and how he met his future wife are mostly covered here. And I loved this part, read it on a bus journey of around two hours.
The second part is how he started in the CIA and things he leaned there, also his postings in Geneva (which he didn’t wanted, common man it’s Switzerland) and Tokyo, which he spends mostly working, ofcourse he was a spy not a travel blogger, also he explain aton of technicalities of how internet and stuff like that works,and he uses the best analogies,that even me, the last person possible,got some knowledge out of it.
Especially the TOR /the Onion router. Also at this point he slowly starts to doubt his side and the intentions of the agency he is working for and the very internet that he believed ‘raised him’.
“The Internet I’d grown up with, the Internet that had raised me, was disappearing. And with it, so was my youth. The very act of going online, which had once seemed like a marvelous adventure, now seemed like a fraught ordeal.“
And around this time, all this stress started to manifest as physical symptoms too
“I felt defeated. The two great institutions of my life had been betrayed and are betraying me : my country and the internet. And now my body was following the suit. My brain had ,quite literally, short-circuited”
The third part starts with Edward and Lindsay moving to Hawaii,in hopes that the better climate and lesser work burden would help with Edward’s health.
But as we move forward the inner turmoil inside the authors mind just become bigger and bigger, and there are details of how he managed to get the data of the NSA’s system ( I would suggest reading the book for it) and the rest is history.
But the part that hit me the most was Edward Snowden was so young when all this happened,he had a high paying job, nice house,love of his life and everything most people dream of, and whichever side you take, you’ll have to acknowledge that he burned down everything for a cause he believes in and that’s what makes him and this book so interesting.
Also I loved how understanding Lindsay is,she had to go through a ton of stuff when the whole thing came out and I’m so happy that they are now married.
If you like informative non-fiction books, definitely read this, you don’t need to be interested in technology. And if you end up reading it,or have red it already do share you thoughts with me in the comments.