Cover image for Verax : the true history of whistleblowers, drone warfare, and mass surveillance
Title:
Verax : the true history of whistleblowers, drone warfare, and mass surveillance
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2017.

©2017
ISBN:
9781627793551
Physical Description:
229 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Abstract:
"9/11 not only marked the worst domestic terror attack in U.S. history, but also unleashed electronic spying by the government on a massive worldwide scale. In a wholly original and engaging telling, Verax ("truth-teller" and one of Edward Snowden's code names) recounts the full story of American electronic surveillance post 9/11, in brilliant comics form"-- Provided by publisher.
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Prescott Public Library1Received on 11/29/17

Summary

Summary

From a prize-winning journalist and the co-author of the best-selling Zahra's Paradise , a sweeping graphic history of electronic surveillance from 9/11 to the latest drone strike

9/11 not only marked the worst domestic terror attack in U.S. history, but also unleashed electronic spying by the government on a massive worldwide scale. In a wholly original and engaging telling, Verax ("truth-teller" and one of Edward Snowden's code names) recounts the full story of American electronic surveillance post 9/11, in brilliant comics form.

We follow Pratap Chatterjee, journalist sleuth, as he dives deep into the world of electronic surveillance and introduces its cast of characters: developers, companies, users, government agencies, whistleblowers, journalists, and, in a leading role, the devices themselves. He explains the complex ways governments follow the movements and interactions of individuals and countries, whether by tracking the players of Angry Birds, deploying "Stingrays" that listen in on phone calls or "deep packet inspection" that mines email, or by weaponizing programs with names like Howlermonkey and Godsurge to attack the infrastructure of states such as Iran and remotely guide the U.S. missiles used in drone killings. He chronicles the complicity of corporations like Apple, Verizon, and Google, and the daring of the journalists and whistleblowers--from Snowden to Julian Assange to the lesser-known NSA Four--who made sure that the world would know. Finally, he gives a prognosis for the future of electronic surveillance, and for the fortunes of those who resist it.

By condensing a crucial event of the 21st century and a broad, complex history into a compact, engaging, and vivid work, Verax is a significant contribution that is certain to last.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Investigative journalist Chatterjee (The Earth Brokers) and graphic novelist Khalil (Zahra's Paradise) collaborate on this pointed examination of the controversies and ethical quandaries of drone warfare and the surveillance state. The first half of the book is a tense recounting of the all-stars of government surveillance whistleblowing, with Wikileaks' Julian Assange, journalist Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras, and former CIA employee Edward Snowden all playing their parts. The second half follows Chatterjee's own investigations into the drone warfare that relies on this surveillance, even when the vaunted, supposedly precise intel is known to be unreliable, resulting in the deaths of innocents. Khalil's sketchy figures fall somewhere between caricature and realism, while the diagrams scattered throughout help clarify the tech-heavy narrative. Though Chatterjee lays most of the blame for drone killing at the feet of the Obama administration, he also devotes a chapter to the state of surveillance intel under Trump, including the disastrous January 2017 raid and drone strike in Yemen and the increase in strikes since Trump has taken office, ensuring the continued relevance of this troubling work. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A graphic indictment of American surveillance and drone malfeasance.International investigative reporter Chatterjee (Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War, 2009, etc.) and political cartoonist Khalil (Mission Accomplished: Wicked Cartoons by America's Most Wanted Political Cartoonist, 2007, etc.) join forces for an account that eliminates nearly all ambiguity from the tale of how Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and a small group of concerned journalists alerted the world to the massive scale of "tracking, hacking and mass surveillance" that American security forces had undertaken. Chatterjee was initially employed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, but as he was making headway into the National Security Agency's security reach, he saw his job eliminated because it was costing too much for too little payoff. He stayed on the case, however, often digging into his own pocket to do so, and the main result of his work was to show how the government had mistargeted innocent victims for drone attack, how it deceived the public during the coverup, and how often those responsible for inflicting those attacks suffered from PTSD. The moral conclusions here are clear, but the narrative seeks equal clarity where conclusions have been mixed and murky. Take the case of Snowden, who was forced to flee to Russia after he made classified information public. "The U.S. Congress was sharply divided on Snowden," writes the author. "Some called him a hero, others a traitor." Chatterjee and Khalil leave no doubt that they side with the former, and they never really explain much of a case for the latter. In fact, the very title of the book is in tribute to the heroism of Snowden and others who have brought such information out of the darkness. In Latin, the text informs, Verax means "truth teller." The narrative effectively blends first-person prose with journalistic reporting and presents a complex story with cohesion. However, some of the subtleties might require more than a comic book. An accessible book that sounds the alarm on how modern technology can be used by the government against its citizenry. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

An investigative journalist who helped break the revelations of Edward Snowden, Chatterjee is an ideal author for this nonfiction graphic novel. And acidic Arab American political cartoonist Bendib has only to trade caricature for portraiture to be its ideal artist. They open with a wordless prologue: a drone seeks its human target in Afghanistan, a man sitting downcast in a doorway. But a mother and baby are inside. The last, full-page panel hovers over a roomful of technicians tracking the drone's mission from far away. The dialogue-laden narrative that follows views events from Chatterjee's perspective as he tracks down whistleblowers, discovers the magnitude of surveillance the U.S. government is conducting, and demonstrates the significance of particular elements as they enter the story. He also introduces one helluva MacGuffin-that-isn't in the first chapter and keeps its secret until the eleventh, well more than halfway through. Altogether, the book is chockablock with events and information, exposition and explanation a fine first book on a subject that couldn't be more important.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2017 Booklist


Library Journal Review

In what becomes a gripping murder mystery, journalist Chatterjee (Halliburton's Army) spins out a chronicle of U.S. surveillance since 9/11 and focuses on accidental drone killings of civilians. Who or what killed Tariq, a soccer-crazed teen from Waziristan whom Chatterjee met while in Pakistan researching drone warfare? It's a cast of thousands in a Peter Jackson-scale tragedy. Some 17 U.S. governmental agencies conduct high-tech surveillance, the drone program alone requires several hundred remotely located people per individual drone, and how things can go wrong appears equally baroque. -Chatterjee also introduces the groups and individuals pushing back against mass surveillance and drone warfare. Khalil's (Zahra's Paradise) illustrations render real people recognizable in clean black-and-white line art; he does a fantastic job with the numerous charts, diagrams, and visual metaphors. The forthcoming website VeraxComic.org will supply resource links. VERDICT A compelling and necessary read for both supporters and nonsupporters of U.S. surveillance programs. Written for adults but excellent classroom fodder for younger audiences.-MC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.