The phenomenon that is Edward Snowden seems to attract just two schools of thought: either he is a traitor to his country and to his employers or he is a whistleblower worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. His deeds have caused outrage and praise alike. Those who believe he has done today’s world a service by exposing America’s global snooping on private communications seem rarely to pause to consider what damage he may have done, while those who criticise his perceived betrayal want nothing less than a public hanging and don’t want to contemplate the Big Brother surveillance system that he uncovered as a privileged member of America’s huge intelligence community.
Three books about the former US National Security Agency contractor follow this polarised position-taking – two in favour of Snowden, one seriously against. Edward Lucas’s apoplectic vignette, The Snowden Operation, not only denounces Snowden as an unprincipled traitor guilty of stealing the largest consignment of American secrets in the country’s