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A look at books on whistle-blowing

When it comes to whistle-blowers, we may be living in a kind of strange, explosive golden age. Right now, it’s all about Edward Snowden, the Booz Allen Hamilton IT guy who’s electrified the issue of privacy vs. security. In American history, there’s been no “more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material — and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers,” writes Daniel Ellsberg, the crown prince of whistle-blowers. Meanwhile, the Bradley Manning trial pushes on, as the public debates whether this soldier rightly or traitorously gave classified documents to WikiLeaks. Not so long ago, Snowden and Manning might have been more uniformly judged snitches or rats. In 1971 Ralph Nader coined the term “whistle-blower” — with its positive image of a fair-minded referee calling foul — reflecting how our world had changed.

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