mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


Worldwide Scoop: Why Snowden Did It

Extracted from my new book, Bravehearts, the scoop reveals a secret new chapter in the Edward Snowden story–so secret, even Snowden didn’t know about it.  John Crane, a former senior Pentagon official, comes forward publicly for the first time to reveal how his superiors broke the law to silence whistle blowers’ testimonies and ruin their lives. Snowden drew the logical conclusion: he had to go outside the system. Read this extract from Bravehearts, in the Guardian…. Read more


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Good News, And Bad, On Climate Change

Heat-trapping emissions are peaking and the global climate movement continues to grow in size and effectiveness.  But we’re already locked into 1.5 Celsius degrees of warming, and more is coming, which means that millions of people, especially children and the poor, will suffer grievously.  The post-Paris momentum needs to accelerate, I argue in The Nation:… Read more

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Are You Paying For Journalism? Why Not?

Vigorous journalism is essential to true democracy, but the rise of the Internet and the related assumption that no one has to pay for journalism is undermining news organizations the world over, as I report in this Nation piece about mass lay-offs at The Guardian:  If you care about democracy and the informed public it requires, please do your part.  We journalists don’t ask for much, but we do need a living… Read more

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New York AG Wants To Know: Did ExxonMobil Lie To Investors?

Pity the poor fossil fuel industry! New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warns ExxonMobil and its industry brethren that “dramatic changes” are ahead in a Nation interview where he discusses the need to pursue both “transactional” and “transformational” politics:… Read more


How GOP Climate Deniers Weakened Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement doubtless would have been much stronger if the US delegation didn’t have to avoid items that would have qualified the agreement as a “treaty” that a Republican-dominated Senate surely would have killed:… Read more

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Scientists Warn Paris Text Needs Massive Improvement

An international all-star panel of climate scientists expressed alarm at the emerging Paris Agreement, saying that massive improvements were needed in the remaining 24 hours to give humanity a chance of avoiding a dire future:… Read more

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Latest Book


By now, almost everyone knows what Edward Snowden did: leak top secret documents revealing that the US government was spying on hundreds of millions of people around the world. But if you want to know why Snowden did it, the way he did it, you need to know the stories of two other men.

The first is Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same surveillance ten years before Snowden did and got crushed. The other is The Third Man, a former senior Pentagon official who comes forward in this book for the first time to describe how his superiors repeatedly broke the law to punish Drake—and unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches.

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About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.