mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


Lessons From Obama Years For Fighting Trump

Donald Trump, the pending Climate-Denier-In Chief, threatens to accelerate the race towards climate catastrophe.  Photo-opportunities by Al Gore or Leonardo DiCaprio won’t stop him.  Instead, heed the words of ExxonMobil’s chief media officer in my review of Obama’s climate record the past eight years–governments have to respond when there are massive numbers of people in the streets:… Read more


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Justice For All? Not In New Orleans

New Orleans is the incarceration capital of the world, its criminal justice system is a scandal, and of course non-whites and the poor suffer most.  Refusing to play along with the official charade, the city’s public defender has begun refusing felony cases until the white-dominated legislature funds the lawyers he needs.  Read this Daily Beast piece and weep with shame for a country that claims to deliver equal justice for all:… Read more

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Trump’s Birther Lies And The Complicit Media

Donald Trump rode to the Republican nomination on the strength of lies and bombast, not least about Barack Obama’s legitimacy as president.  And the mainstream media has enabled and amplified Trump’s explicit falsehoods and implicit racism every step of the way:… Read more

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Give Snowden A Trial … But An Honest One

Edward Snowden admits he broke the law by leaking secret documents to journalists but says the system left him no other choice.  As John Crane, a former senior Pentagon official,  reveals in my new book, Bravehearts, his colleagues too often persecute the very whistle blowers they are supposed to protect.   I argue in The New York Times that Snowden should be allowed to make this argument in court, which current US law forbids:… Read more

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Snowden Did “A Public Service,” Says Former Obama Attorney General

Maybe Edward Snowden did the right thing after all? Or so implies Eric Holder, the Obama administration’s former Attorney General, in calling Snowden’s whistle blowing “a public service.” But Holder, like Obama and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, still claims Snowden should have raised his concerns through official channels instead. Read the following articlein The Nation, adapted from my new book, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden, to see why such advice is disingenuous at best:… Read more

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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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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.

Pick up your copy at: | Barnes & Noble

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.