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Publisher's Summary

Today's National Security Agency is the largest, most costly, and most technologically advanced spy organization the world has ever known. It is also the most intrusive, secretly filtering millions of phone calls and e-mails an hour in the United States and around the world. Half a million people live on its watch list, and the number grows by the thousands every month. Has America become a surveillance state?
In The Shadow Factory, James Bamford, the foremost expert on National Security Agency, charts its transformation since 9/11, as the legendary code breakers turned their ears away from outside enemies, such as the Soviet Union, and inward to enemies whose communications increasingly crisscross America.
Fast-paced and riveting, The Shadow Factory is about a world unseen by Americans without the highest security clearances. But it is a world in which even their most intimate whispers may no longer be private.
©2008 James Bamford; (P)2008 Books on Tape
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Customer Reviews

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By George on 06-29-14

Every American needs to know what's in this book!

The IRS lost Lerner's emails? Why doesn't congress just get them from the NSA? They have stored every email sent in modern history - and they'll record and save this review.

America needs to wake up and realize that our elections mean nothing if all these bureaucratic entities, that report only to the president, can control us, while congress sits idly by and does nothing.

We The People need to decide if we're to be subjects, or citizens whose elected politicians report to us, and whose unelected bureaucrats report to us via congress.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By LongerILiveLessIKnow on 08-06-13

Intersection of national security and big data.

By chance, I read this book and In the Plex (a Google biography) one after the other. It made for an interesting side-by-side. Both have massive data storage facilities and, in their different ways, brilliantly make sense of mountains of data. Both kinda creep us out. When I type “what sound does a g…,” google auto fills “giraffe make” – nailing what I was going to query. And when the NSA snags a 6 second audio clip of a most wanted terrorist in a jeep in a remote part of the desert thousands of miles away, Bamford tells us how the NSA/CIA not only IDs him, but destroys his jeep with a hellfire missile within 40 minutes.

The first quarter of the book pre-dates NSA’s big data days. It details the 9/11 hijacker’s movements within the United States just prior to the attack, while telling the parallel story of NSA’s intelligence gathering and communication failures with the FBI/CIA.

The second part of the book deals with NSA’s growth post-9/11 and its gathering of massive amounts of data on citizens and non-citizens. Politics aside, I was interested in the nuts and bolts of how the NSA captures the data.

The third part explores NSA’s growing reliance on government contractors, including several Israeli ex-military types that apparently concern James Bamford.

I’m trying to make sense of the big data world we find ourselves in and the commercial and government titans who are figuring out how to wield it. This book was a helpful piece of the puzzle.


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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Matt on 03-06-16

complex and thorough

This book discusses the NSAs eavesdropping programs in great detail across a wide time range in recent American history. There is a lot of detail, though I myself struggled a little with the large volume of names and locations, especially given that I am not based in America, and am not familiar with American politics.

For anyone with some basic understanding of this topic but interested in learning more, I think this would be a great resource. Others however may at times find it a little difficult to follow.

Overall i would however recommend this title.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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