VERAX by Pratap Chatterjee

VERAX

The True History of Whistleblowers, Drone Warfare, and Mass Surveillance
by & illustrated by
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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.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-62779-355-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2017




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