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Publisher's Summary

How does our government eavesdrop? Whom do they eavesdrop on? And is the interception of communication an effective means of predicting and preventing future attacks? These are some of the questions at the heart of Patrick Radden Keefe’s brilliant new book, Chatter.

In the late 1990s, when Keefe was a graduate student in England, he heard stories about an eavesdropping network led by the United States that spanned the planet. The system, known as Echelon, allowed America and its allies to intercept the private phone calls and e-mails of civilians and governments around the world. Taking the mystery of Echelon as his point of departure, Keefe explores the nature and context of communications interception, drawing together fascinating strands of history, fresh investigative reporting, and riveting, eye-opening anecdotes. The result is a bold and distinctive book, part detective story, part travel-writing, part essay on paranoia and secrecy in a digital age.  

Chatter starts out at Menwith Hill, a secret eavesdropping station covered in mysterious, gargantuan golf balls, in England's Yorkshire moors. From there, the narrative moves quickly to another American spy station hidden in the Australian outback; from the intelligence bureaucracy in Washington to the European Parliament in Brussels; from an abandoned National Security Agency base in the mountains of North Carolina to the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

As Keefe chases down the truth of contemporary surveillance by intelligence agencies, he unearths reams of little-known information and introduces us to a rogue's gallery of unforgettable characters. We meet a former British eavesdropper who now listens in on the United States Air Force for sport; an intelligence translator who risked prison to reveal an American operation to spy on the United Nations Security Council; a former member of the Senate committee on intelligence who says that oversight is so bad, a lot of senators only sit on the committee for the travel.

Provocative, often funny, and alarming without being alarmist, Chatter is a journey through a bizarre and shadowy world with vast implications for our security as well as our privacy. It is also the debut of a major new voice in nonfiction.

©2005 Patrick Radden Keefe (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a divison of Random House, Inc.

What the critics say

"Mr. Keefe writes, crisply and entertainingly, as an interested private citizen rather than an expert." (The New York Times)
"Intelligent and polemical, Keefe's study is sure to spark some political chatter of its own." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Chatter

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • axel
  • 2005-04-24

Essential reading for sceptics of

Apart from the very pleasant voice of the reader who always finds just the right intonation, this book provides the listener with very enlightening insides in the global attack on our civil liberties. It also document the limits of governmental intrusion in the internet- and communication age, as well as the absurdity of the intent by a conglomerate of the anglo-saxon world to control and manage the worlds intelligence via "remote". The book is full of intersting insides and even elaborates on the impossibility to make true sense of the unsurmountable volumes of intelligence gathered by the global Echelon network. Could the NSA have prevent 9/11, and why could it not? I would recomend this book to anyone who likes to demystify the so-called powerful institutions...

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jeff
  • 2005-04-21

unrealized potential

unfortunately the premise of this book is far more interesting than the content. i bought it because i wanted to learn more about the Echelon system and other similar SigInt technologies. however, i found that this was merely a discursive collection of personal anecdotes. i'm actually a bit astonished at all of the effusively positive reviews. if you have read *at all* about SigInt or the NSA, then you will not learn anything by reading this book.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 2021-06-04

Great story

It was a great topic and very well narrated. I was hooked from the beginning.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Howie
  • 2021-05-13

a must read for everyone

I found this book disturbing on many levels, buy good info for everyone
to know