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  • gilwilson 2:13 PM on April 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: espionage, nsa, whistle blower   

    “How America Lost Its Secrets – Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft” By Edward Jay Epstein 

    How America Lost Its Secrets35999032
    Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft
    By: Edward Jay Epstein
    Narrated by: Michael Bybee
    Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
    Release date: 01-17-17
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    Before I get into the book itself I have to first remark on the narrator. Yeah, I understand that the subject matter is full of a bunch of tech speak and politics and could be very boring, but I think the narrator could have put a little more emphasis in the reading. There were many times the voice would lull me to sleep. I was intrigued enough by the subject matter but the narrator needs to pick it up a bit.

    Anyway, let’s talk about this book. The author does seem very biased against Snowden and is dead set on Snowden being a criminal pure and simple. Yeah he stole secrets. Yeah he took those secrets to countries of our enemies. So yes he is a criminal. But I really do think Snowden thought he was doing good. I think he was misled in his thinking or maybe even coerced into doing what he did.

    To sum up this book the epilogue did it best. Snowden’s stealing of NSA Secrets has three categories: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.

    The Good is that he brought a possible renegade unhindered agency (NSA) out to the public, revealing the need for someone to watch the watchers, and exposed an intelligence hole that needed plugged.

    The Bad is that he stole those secrets and exposed a lot of needed intelligence sources that caused breaches in the intel on terrorists.

    The Ugly is that he stole secrets and brought them to countries that wish to rid us from the face of the Earth.

    I did not enjoy the narrator, his voice kinda droned on an on at times, causing me to slip in and out of paying attention. However the material itself was interesting

    Publisher’s Summary

    A groundbreaking exposé that convincingly challenges the popular image of Edward Snowden as hacker turned avenging angel, while revealing how vulnerable our national security systems have become – as exciting as any political thriller, and far more important.

    After details of American government surveillance were published in 2013, Edward Snowden, formerly a subcontracted IT analyst for the NSA, became the center of an international controversy: Was he a hero, traitor, whistle-blower, spy? Was his theft legitimized by the nature of the information he exposed? When is it necessary for governmental transparency to give way to subterfuge?

    Edward Jay Epstein brings a lifetime of journalistic and investigative acumen to bear on these and other questions, delving into both how our secrets were taken and the man who took them. He makes clear that by outsourcing parts of our security apparatus, the government has made classified information far more vulnerable; how Snowden sought employment precisely where he could most easily gain access to the most sensitive classified material; and how, though he claims to have acted to serve his country, Snowden is treated as a prized intelligence asset in Moscow, his new home.

    ©2017 Edward Jay Epstein (P)2017 Random House Audio

  • gilwilson 8:56 PM on January 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , daniel suarez, espionage, jeff gurner, kill decision, , , , , tech,   

    “Kill Decision” by Daniel Suarez 

    kill decision

    “Kill Decision”
    by Daniel Suarez
    read by Jeff Gurner
    published by Penguin Audio
    13 hours and 6 minutes.

    When I first found out about this book I knew it was a science-fiction novel and because that is my favorite genre, I knew I had to give this a shot. As I was listening to the audiobook I kept hearing more and more news reports about drone aircraft in action around the world and I realized that this piece of science-fiction is not too far from science-fact which is a bit scary.

    Before we get to the plot of this book the term “Kill Decision” may need some explaining for the non-military lay-person. The kill decision is what keeps the human touch in modern warfare. While many forms of drone (unmanned) aircraft are used today the actual decision to fire on targets is made by a human, usually a high-ranking military person. This decision to fire on targets is the “Kill Decision.” This book focuses on the idea of what happens if we leave that decision to the machines.

    The author, Daniel Suarez, definitely did his homework and covered all bases when creating a technology that sounds like it could logically happen today. We already know about the militaries of the world using drones and doing so with remote control using onboard cameras. Suarez explores not only the possibility of what would happen if someone were to try fully automated drones that pick their own targets, he takes it even further by explaining how all of this technology could come together. From facial recognition software, to graphic analysis software, to hive mentality of insects used as a model for numerous drones working together. Suarez then goes even further to explain how the spin doctors would use social media to create positive views of unmanned warfare. Altogether this creates an in depth sci-fi techno thriller that sounds like something that could be happening right now.

    The reader of this audiobook, Jeff Gurner, deserves some sort of an award for this production. He was able to present every little detail of the story with some masterful voicework. He presented each character with subtle voice changes that made it so each character, even the minor ones, came to full three dimensional life. Even when two of the major players were free falling from a plane being bombed by drones, through Gurner’s voice work I could see the Earth getting closer and I found myself holding my breath until chutes were pulled. Actually thanks to his delivery and the excellent writing I found myself holding my breath several times throughout this book.

    This book takes the listener from Iraq, to Stanford University, to Africa, to Pakistan, to Kansas City, to Utah, to Mexico to China and numerous other places in tracking down who is creating fully automated drones and using them to start a war.

    A group at Stanford have created code that allows computers to have their own vision and use video feeds to alert users of strange occurrences. Just as they are about to publish and make millions their lawyers inform them that the code is already on the internet and cannot be patented. Just as the group is discussing what to do about who stole their code their building is destroyed by drones.

    Linda McKinney is in Africa studying the swarming behavior of weaver ants when her camp is attacked by drones. Luckily (maybe) for Linda she is saved by a government agency whose members are buried so deep in the secrecy of government operations that they actually don’t exist. The group’s leader, Odin, tells her her study in the swarming of ants is being used as a prototype in creating automated drones. Not believing this Linda escapes and is captured by the FBI. When she tries to explain her story the FBI do not believe her, but once Homeland Security becomes involved Linda thinks someone is about to believe her.

    Through thrilling stops around the world the team try to track down the manufacturer of the drones and attempt at preventing a war in which all killing will be done by the drones and all of humanity is in danger. In what is an excellent mix of several science-fiction and espionage genres of storytelling, “Kill Decision” will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last word and after that will keep you looking over your shoulder.


  • gilwilson 9:23 PM on September 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , cuba, espionage, , , , , , , , , south america,   

    “Ai! Pedrito! -When Intelligence Goes Wrong ” by L. Ron Hubbard and Kevin J. Anderson 

    “Ai! Pedrito! -When Intelligence Goes Wrong ”
    by L. Ron Hubbard and Kevin J. Anderson
    Multicast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    Approx 9 hours

    Holy cow!  I have just finished a super fun action/adventure/comedy and I can’t tell if I’m tired from laughing or the suspense, probably both.  “Ai! Pedrito!” is a great romp through the spy world mixing in the United States, the Russians, the Cubans, and the  small South American country Colodor .  This book is a parody of that spy world mixing up spies, double agents, lovers and enemies as seen through a nerdy very straight edged Naval Intelligence officer and sometimes through his doppleganger, a revolutionary, womanizer and heavy drinker.

    “Ai! Pedrito!” was originally written as a screenplay by L. Ron Hubbard who said the events were based on an incident that happend to him in real life.  The screenplay was then novelized by Kevin J. Anderson.  Anderson whose works include the collaboration with Brian Herbert on the “Dune” series of books written and pieced together from material found after Frank Herbert’s death.  Anderson is not a stranger to turning “found” material into great books, but most of his stuff is Science-Fiction, while this story has a very small piece of sci-fi to add to the fun, Anderson proved he can also work on comedy and adventure with this one.

    The Russians and Cubans have developed a plan to steal secrets from the U.S. military by placing a revolutionary, by the name of Pedrito Miraflores into the office of U.S. Naval intelligence and in turn send Lt. J.G. Tom Smith to the small country of Colodor, while Pedrito steals the secrets.  What makes this the perfect plan is that Smith and Miraflores are mirror images of each other, in looks only.  While Smith spends his spare time reading history books and his drink of choice is milk, Miraflores’ pasttime is womanizing and drinking tequila, oh, and starting revolutions in South America.   But these two redheads will be switching places and the mayhem begins.

    Tom Smith is told he has won a free trip to the beautiful South American country of Colodor.  When he tells the representative from the sweepstakes he can’t find Colodor on the map the rep tells him it’s all due to a strike by the Mapmakers Union.  Tom takes the vacation as a chance to relax and get his mind away from the numerous blueprints of secret weapons and get a chance to read his book on great Naval battles.  When he arrives at the Colodor Airport he is accosted by a man that greets him with, “Ai! Pedrito!” and proceeds to shuffle Tom into the Airport bar insisting on buying him a drink.  When Tom insists he’s not Pedrito, the man thinks Pedrito is undercover and says, “Don’t worry Pedrito, your secret is safe with me.”  This is how Lt. J.G. begins his life as Pedrito Miraflores.

    Meanwhile, Pedrito begins stealing secrets and, when Smith’s boss insists Pedrito date his daughter Pedrito cannot resist the chance to be with a beautiful woman.  But alas, this begins Pedrito’s demise in America.

    With each person beginning to absorb the other more and more as they are forced to live as each other until the mission is finished they both begin to realize that womanizing gets you nowhere (especially when the women can think of only getting married).  Smith seems to be doing more damage as Pedrito, when he blows up the US Embassy, by proxy, a secret CIA communications center and gets the US to bomb secret Cuban Missile silos.  All this is done under the constant watch of a mysterious master of disguise by the name of Bolo.

    With some funny constant running gags, such as the shout of “Ai! Pedrito!”, Smith nearly recognizing Bolo each time, and the mapmaker’s strike, this book will have you laughing out loud while on the edge of your seat wondering how it all turns out.  I will say that not until the very end will you know.  Hubbard had a knack for twists in a story and this one, I think, used every twist he could think of.

    This audio book is yet another superb production from Galaxy Audio.  Galaxy Audio has been turning all of Hubbard’s pulp fiction stories into audio books and this latest release shows they are working on more of Hubbard’s works I hope they keep on producing more of these excellent audio dramas, because I can’t wait to listen to some of his sci-fi novels.  Galaxy Audio shows how an audiobook should be done, with excellent voice actors, special sound effects that are comparable to any major motion picture.  The incidental music through the book and especially between chapters perfectly represent the feel of the audio book, making the entire production a classic work of art.

    Mixing in a comedy of errors, mistaken identity, espionage, and blundering officials, “Ai! Pedrito!..” is  a fun audiobook that will keep you on the edge of your seat with action and laughing out loud with great humor.

  • gilwilson 8:36 PM on July 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , espionage, , , , , , , , ,   

    “Spy Killer” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    “Spy Killer”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multicast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    approx 2 hours

    Once again I dive into a Story from the Golden Age, with another pulp fiction classic from the master Storyteller, L. Ron Hubbard.  This time we go on another adventure with at tale from the Orient.

    Each one of these stories by Hubbard from the Mid-20th century launch me into a new adventure.  Galaxy Audio makes these stories transition to audio books in a phenomenal way.  Each one of these books is transformed into an audio drama that closely resembles an old fashioned radio drama.  With great music, perfect sound effects and vocal acting that not only blows away the listener but makes the over the top characters created by Hubbard come to life.

    Originally published in the April 1936 issue of “Five Novels Monthly,”  “Spy Killer” is one of the most violent and darker stories from this era of Hubbard’s book.   Kurt Reid has just escaped from the S.S. Rangoon and is on the run from those that want to charge him with murder.  He flees to pre-Communist Shanghai, China and finds himself hunted by the most vile of persons, Lin Wang.  Wang, a vile disgusting figure, wants Reid to kill a spy, in return he will give Wang a written confession to the murder Reid is being charged with.  The confession is from another member of the crew of the Rangoon who Reid watched Wang torture the confession from.

    Reid finds a woman from his past, Anne Carsten, is friends with a White Russian Spy, Varinka Savischna and both are in Shanghai.  Reid seeks out the spy he is ordered to kill and it turns out to be Varinka.  They then both conspire to kill Wang and try to escape with their lives.

    In a story that is non-stop twists and turns, and secret identities as well as identity changes, Hubbard keeps you wondering what will happen next in this constant thriller.

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