K. Mistry and H. Gurman, "Whistleblowing Nation: The History of National Security Disclosures and the Cult of State Secrecy" (Columbia UP, 2020)


In the past decade, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden became household names. They were celebrated by many as truth-tellers who blew the whistle on governmental abuses. Yet, in the eyes of the state, Manning and Snowden had made so-called “unauthorized disclosures” that jeopardized the nation’s security. Described as such, they could not be labelled “whistleblowers.”

This is an example of what the editors of a new, rousing edited volume––not words typically strung together––call the “paradox of national security whistleblowing”: whistleblowing is widely acknowledged to be an essential feature of democracy, but the US government denies its existence. In Whistleblowing Nation: The History of National Security Disclosures and the Cult of Secrecy, editors Hannah Gurman––a Clinical Associate Professor at New York University’s Gallatin School––and Kaeten Mistry––a senior lecturer in American Studies at the University of East Anglia––and their star-studded cast of contributors help makes sense of the odd place of whistleblowing in American politics.

Their book shows how the history of whistleblowing raises questions about democracy, citizenship, and truth itself. And, as the US war against whistleblowers has continued unabated since the Vietnam War, it’s a much-needed volume. The book should interest scholars of national security, information, and civil liberties, along with concerned citizens.

And, to listeners of this podcast, Mistry and Gurman are offering a discount code—CUP30—which, if entered on the Columbia University Press website, knocks 30% off the book’s price.

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Dexter Fergie

Dexter Fergie is a doctoral student in US and global history at Northwestern University. His research examines the history of ideas, infrastructure, and international organizations.
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