Spy romances of Cold War counterespionage evoke scenes of heroic FBI and CIA agents dedicated to smashing communism and its subversive coterie of intellectual fellow travelers bent on painting the world red. John Rodden cuts this tall tale down to its authentic pint size, refusing to indulge the public relations myth promoted by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. In Of G-Men and EggSpy romances of Cold War counterespionage evoke scenes of heroic FBI and CIA agents dedicated to smashing communism and its subversive coterie of intellectual fellow travelers bent on painting the world red. John Rodden cuts this tall tale down to its authentic pint size, refusing to indulge the public relations myth promoted by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. In Of G-Men and Eggheads, Rodden portrays federal agents’ hilarious obsession with monitoring that ever-present threat to national security, the American literary intellectual. Drawing on government dossiers and archives, Rodden focuses on the onetime members of a radical political sect of ex-Trotskyists (barely numbering a thousand at its height), the so-called New York intellectuals. He describes the nonsensical decades-long pursuit of this group of intellectuals, especially Lionel Trilling, Dwight Macdonald, and Irving Howe. The Keystone Cops style of numerous FBI agents is documented carefully in Rodden's meticulous case studies of how Hoover's men recruited informants to snoop on the "Commies," opened their personal mail, tracked their movements, and reported on their wives and friends. ...
|Title||:||Of G-Men and Eggheads: The FBI and the New York Intellectuals|
|Number of Pages||:||152 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Of G-Men and Eggheads: The FBI and the New York Intellectuals Reviews
I am fascinated with paranoia – it intrigues me to no end to learn about irrationality and the lengths to which fear drives people. One of contemporary American history’s most notorious paranoiacs is, without a doubt, J. Edgar Hoover. The man behind the FBI never met a conspiracy he didn’t see behind every corner… This fascinating treatise from the University of Illinois Press offers yet another set of proofs of Hoover’s paranoia in this tidy little analysis of the FBI’s treatment of three prominent left-wing intellectuals who were the lucky recipients of domestic oversight for decades.John Rodden, author of Of G-Men and Eggheads, has published numerous books on the so-called “New York Intellectuals” – the group of writers and writing-adjacent liberal thinkers who tended toward Marxist-Socialist thought, while generally disavowing traditional Soviet-style Communism. The three subjects of Rodden’s current book fell firmly into this camp. Yet despite their fairly strong anti-Stalinist, anti-Communist theoretical and political leanings, all three were subject to domestic surveillance for decade after decade – primarily, it seems, because of misunderstandings of their positions or of an over-reliance on their early activities and group memberships without any attention to the actual philosophies they espoused in their writing. And if that wasn’t clear enough for you, let me try to say it another way: without any attempt to actually read what these three men wrote or understand what they actually stood for, they were deemed to represent a Communist ideological threat to national security, and therefore to “require” surveillance.Sound familiar? Long before the Patriot Act was a gleam in the eye of domestic surveillance gurus, Hoover’s FBI was working to perfect the craft – albeit even more surreptitiously than the PA authorizes. But I digress…The book provides a nice set-up to the time period and the “mentality” (if one can rightly even call it that) of Hoover and his G-Men. Each of the three intellectuals gets his own chapter, with details provided through what certainly appears to have been meticulous and impressively deep first-degree source research. I was familiar with the Trillings and vaguely so with Howe; Macdonald’s story was new to me though, and perhaps that is why I found it the most interesting. This is not a book for the casual reader; it reads much more like a doctoral dissertation than a novel. While the volume is slim, the writing is dense. But dense doesn’t mean difficult or problematic, it just means that it requires a more careful reading than many of the current non-fiction books deliver. Still, it was a very interesting look at a particularly timely point in American history. I tend to agree with the conclusion – there is much to learn from this period of recent history, and the lessons couldn’t be more relevant in the current political environment. Paranoia made a come back a number of years ago, and it certainly does not look like it will be going out of fashion any time soon… They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it; it would certainly be a mistake to not learn from this particular lesson book.I originally received this book as a review copy via NetGalley, but there were issues with the electronic file. I noted that in my aborted review, and was promptly contacted by the publisher (University of Illinois Press), who most generously (and expeditiously) forwarded a hard copy. Not only an impressive publishing house, but also impressive reader services…
Of G-Men and Eggheads: The FBI and the New York Intellectuals by John Rodden is a recommended account of the FBI files kept on three men: Irving Howe, Dwight Macdonald, and Lionel Trilling."During the Cold War, dissent against U.S. international policy was looked upon as inherently suspicious. No one was more suspicious than outspoken left-leaning intellectuals, especially those who lived in Manhattan. For national security reasons, the federal government expended considerable resources surveilling men and women who might harbor communist sympathies and exert influence over others. In this book, John Rodden reveals how the FBI and CIA kept track of three highly regarded New York intellectuals--Lionel Trilling, Dwight Macdonald, and Irving Howe"Three mid-20th century American intellectuals were investigated by and had extensive files kept on them by the FBI. It was under the assumption that they all presented some kind of security risk and anti-American sentiments. Although each of them were "critical Americans" in that they raised questions about policy or government activities, they did not warrant the scrutiny or the intense surveillance by the FBI. With all the current questions about FBI investigations, the NSA collecting data on and tracking Americans, and privacy concerns of average citizens, Of G-Men and Eggheads raises some important questions about how much surveillance we will allow to be conducted on citizens today. Where is the line of personal privacy versus public safety.This is a well-researched presentation of the historical records. The text includes photos, notes, and an index.I might have rated this higher if my review copy wasn't one that left out the letters "f, i, l, t." It makes it a struggle to smoothly read the text and, sometimes, decipher the words. Also, all dates were left out of my copy so I had to do my own research while reading the book. Two examples of what I had to wade through should make my struggles real to those who don't read advanced reading copies for review purposes: "War of – (and again a er ) lay in Russia. e immigration of such Russian Jews into the United States o en raised"and"this seasoned veteran of internecine Le sectarian warfare would have proudly brandished his les of yesteryear"Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.