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Shocking, grim, frightening, Curt Gentry’s masterful portrait of America’s top policeman is a unique political biography. From more than 300 interviews and over 100,000 pages of previously classified documents, Gentry reveals exactly how a paranoid director created the fraudulent myth of an invincible, incorruptible FBI. For almost fifty years, Hoover held virtually unchecShocking, grim, frightening, Curt Gentry’s masterful portrait of America’s top policeman is a unique political biography. From more than 300 interviews and over 100,000 pages of previously classified documents, Gentry reveals exactly how a paranoid director created the fraudulent myth of an invincible, incorruptible FBI. For almost fifty years, Hoover held virtually unchecked public power, manipulating every president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard Nixon. He kept extensive blackmail files and used illegal wiretaps and hidden microphones to destroy anyone who opposed him. The book reveals how Hoover helped create McCarthyism, blackmailed the Kennedy brothers, and influenced the Supreme Court; how he retarded the civil rights movement and forged connections with mobsters; as well as insight into the Watergate scandal and what part he played in the investigations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr....

Title : J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets
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ISBN : 9780393321289
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 848 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets Reviews

  • Mikey B.
    2018-11-14 17:02

    A detailed and scathing history of J. Edgar Hoover and his bureau. Seldom in American history has an unelected official so dominated and influenced the trajectory of the United States.As suggested above, the F.B.I. and Hoover we’re one and the same thing. And when Hoover wanted his organization to do something, it got done: if there were communists they were to be persecuted; if organized crime didn’t exist, let’s just arrest more communists, civil rights workers…Mr. Gentry provides a multitude of examples over the decades of the nefarious activities of the F.B.I. Hoover made everything personal – any individual who aggravated him was added to his enormous files. These files contained any innuendo on the person - particularly sexual activities, membership in a suspected organization, and drinking habits. In other words a government organization, financed by the tax-payer, that was supposedly investigating criminal activities, was using its resources to stockpile malicious gossip. As the author states, they did, at times, pursue legitimate criminals like Dillinger and eventually, after considerable prompting by Congress, went after organized crime. They also relentlessly and criminally persecuted Martin Luther King.Mr. Gentry gives us the relationship that Hoover had with each of the Presidents and how they tried to circumvent each other. Hoover always managed to maintain his reign as director and acquire more and more funds. He used his ever-expanding filing system to manage (blackmail) Senators and Congressmen to provide this money.This is a compete biography of the man and how he developed the F.B.I. – and more importantly how he came to influence, maintain and use his power over the American people. Sadly he imposed his 19th century view of the world on many people who trusted and believed in him. Hoover was Machiavelli in action – he wielded power like a virtuoso during his 48 years as director.Of course Mr. Gentry busts the myth of Hoover’s image as a positive force in U.S. history. We are presented with a man who is intolerant of any view opposed to his own, and a man not to be trifled with - a prime manipulator.One favourite quote (from page 711 of my edition): One of J. Edgar Hoover’s fabled Ten Commandments was “thou shalt have no other Directors before me”.

  • Nancy Oakes
    2018-11-11 00:21

    Personally, I LOVED this book, but I would not recommend it if you're looking for something quick and dirty because it is not a cheap and tawdry or gossipy kind of peek at peccadilloes. That kind of stuff is not why I chose this book, and in fact, I've avoided reading the ones that make tittilation the focus.First and foremost, you have to read this book through the end. Reading it slowly was a plus. I found myself often going to the internet to get a brief look at topics the author had fleshed out in his writing. Second, the subject matter was frightening, and as the author as pointed out in an epilogue, it's probably still continuing today. As much as I hate to say it, and even more, hate to admit it, the FBI, at least during J Edgar Hoover's term in office (not just according to this author, but to others who've also done copious amounts of research) functioned much as any other government's secret state police did in many areas. I find it appalling that one man and under his stewardship, one organization, could produce such an atmosphere of fear that he had presidents, congressmen, senators, investigation committees and anyone else connected with government afraid to do their jobs. Everyone and anyone even remotely connected with politicians could have been an FBI informant at any time. I tell you, this book really scared me -- American civil liberties were being violated left and right under this man's direction. J. Edgar is one of my favorite topics for non-fiction reading for this very reason. How one man in what is supposed to be a government by the people and for the people could amass so much power and create such an atmosphere is downright amazing. Call me naive, okay? I'm sure this crap is still going on at some level.I very highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic, although as I mentioned, it is a bit of a tough read, not just in terms of subject matter, but in the sheer volume of material. And I have to say, frankly, that I'm more worried about what the author didn't find.

  • John Harder
    2018-12-06 21:20

    A recent edition of the book boasts on the cover that it is the basis for the motion picture. This is a fib. I saw the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio (not sitting with him – I mean he was up on the screen) and the movie spends a lot of time dwelling and/or alluding to J. Edgar’s presumably repressed homosexuality. The book is penetrating but it hardly mentions any, er…well – penetration, homosexual or otherwise.The focus, however, is on the obsessive, methodical acquisition of information and power by a great but not very good man. J. Edgar deserves a lot of credit. He built and modernized police investigations and arguably made America safer. He also had the goods on everyone and he was not afraid of reminding people of this fact and using the information for his own ends.The writing style for this rather hefty volume could flow better, but it is undoubtedly thorough. I give this a sideways thumb.

  • Hadrian
    2018-11-13 21:53

    A compelling and thorough account of America's Policeman. It's very frightening to see how long one man can endure at such a high reach of power for so long, and be thought as indispensable and terrifying at once. His utterly calculating and harshly efficient personality led him through crises from disgruntled WWI veterans' riots through to the Watergate coverup - it was arguably his death that led to a collapse in Nixon's defenses, and his later resignation.With all of these scary details, the biography makes for an interesting read.

  • Theresa
    2018-12-06 20:01

    Fascinating book about one of the United States' biggest chunks of sentient sh*t.

  • Jim
    2018-12-03 19:13

    This is a frightening look at corruption inside the FBI. Hoover ran this organization with an iron fist. He collected dirt on everyone and anyone, and used it to further his goals. Those goals being maintaining a shining image of his precious FBI. Attaining appropriations every time he wanted more money. And blackmailing any politician who stood in his way. He didn't stop there though. He ordered his agents to break into homes, ( called "blackbag" jobs by agents.) and illegally tap the phones of, and follow ( politicians, Hollywood elites, Doctors, neighbors, spouses etc.) for information to be used to further his reign. After reading this, I have no doubt, none whatsoever, that with agencies like the NSA, collecting data on law abiding Americans, that the info gathered is being used nefariously. Witness the spineless republican response to Obama's agenda. It's like they've become liberal democrats. Also, Justice Roberts bending the law into a pretzel, to pass Obama care. Call me paranoid, but after reading this book, I believe the abuses of power today, far exceed what Hoover did, and he did plenty. He was director from 1924 to 1972, and only his death removed him from power. It's a long read, but well worth it, I can't imagine a more through look inside the Hoover FBI.

  • Jill Hutchinson
    2018-12-02 21:08

    The author packs a lot of information into 800+ pages as he dissects the life and autocratic rule of the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. He refrains from speculating on the relationship between Hoover and his "constant companion", Clyde Tolson, thereby avoiding turning this biography into a gossip fest so loved by some modern authors. But don't be misled, it is full of gossip about government secrets.....wiretapping, breaking and entering, bribes, and political favors, all of which were under Hoover's control and tacit (and sometimes not so tacit) agreement. It explores his masterful manipulation of the Presidents and Attorneys General under whom he served and the unchallenged power he wielded for over 45 years as Director. It will cause the reader a few raised eyebrows and make one wonder what other secrets aren't contained in this well researched, comprehensive story of one of most powerful men ever to hold government office.

  • Nick Black
    2018-12-02 17:58

    surprisingly dreary given the colorful events surrounding the subject, and the author (coauthor with Bugliosi ofHelter Skelter). it's interesting to read about Felt before it was known that he was Deep Throat. i wish the book had focused more on the actual geopolitical movers and shakers affected by Hoover than his interest in salacious and tawdry details of random people's lives (there's effectively nothing about the prosecution of Oppenheimer, for instance). with that said, the COINTELPRO against the Black Panthers seemed competently done, and the results possibly even desirable, but that still was an unacceptable violation of law and civil liberties. a case study on political power run amok, but not worth reading at 750+ pages.

  • Danny Sarubin
    2018-11-28 19:15

    I love all jeh books, less fact based the better

  • Glen Stott
    2018-11-22 17:10

    When I was growing up in the 1950’s & 1960’s the FBI was depicted on TV, the radio, in the papers, in the movies, etc. as the greatest organization defending our country and freedom. It was the real live Superman fighting for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Later I heard that it wasn’t quite all that. This book exposes hidden secrets of the FBI and especially John Edgar Hoover. For instance, he replaced John with the initial J when he discovered another John Edgar Hoover in town who had a bad reputation. The text and footnotes (all of which I read) take nearly 1000 pages. I found nearly every page interesting though I was happy to finally get through it so I could go onto something else.I am appalled at the depth, breadth, and persistence of every form of corruption that existed in the FBI under J Edgar Hoover from its beginnings; a culture that persisted in the leadership even after Hoover’s demise. Hoover died in 1972 and this book was copywritten in 1991. Gentry concludes with an epilog from 1972 to 1990. Several directors served short stints during that period. Some were more successful than others at stemming the corruption in the leadership, but none were fully successful. William Sessions was director in 1991when the book was published. Ultimately, he was removed by President Clinton in 1993 under a cloud of accusations of unethical improprieties. When I look at Comey and McCabe over the last 18 months or so, it seems to me that corruption in the leadership levels of the Bureau still thrives.Hoover had files pretty on much everyone who was famous or near famous in entertainment, sports, radio, newspapers, religion, everything, but especially officials in local, state, and national government. And it wasn’t just the people, many of their family members and friends had FBI files. Much of that data was collected illegally through wire tips, bugs, and burglaries. An example of how Hoover used this data. He had extensive files on John Kennedy dating from before he joined the Navy and became a hero. Hoover was a conservative and preferred Nixon. It was known that Kennedy knew this, so it was thought he would replace Hoover if elected. Hoover meets with Kennedy. He just wants Kennedy to know that Kennedy's secret affairs etc. are not secret. And, oh by the way, Hoover has some information that might be useful to Kennedy about some of his opponents and detractors. This info could be anonymously leaked anytime it would be useful. Robert Kennedy, who was Hoover’s boss as Attorney General, hated Hoover, but neither did he nor his brother ever seriously considered firing the guy. Hoover went through eight Presidents. Some liked him in the beginning, most didn’t like him; some hated him, but none dared cross him. Nixon called him into his office twice to fire him – Hoover walked out each time with his job secure.Hoover paid FBI agents to ghost write books for him. He would publish the books under his name and publicly pledge all the profits to a charitable foundation. However, it turned out the foundation was just a money laundering system that allowed Hoover to avoid income taxes on the money.The FBI leadership was filled with people who used the power they had to get money, power, fame, and unlimited women. Hoover participated in all that except the women. There were always rumors that he was homosexual, and this may explain why he never seemed to have a sexual interest in women. He lived with his mother in her house until she died. He never married and apparently never dated.He hated blacks, Mexicans, communists, criminals, homosexuals and nearly everybody except white men. When pressure was applied to hire women and minorities (way back in the 1950s) he hired black agents to be chauffeurs, butlers, cooks, etc. Women were secretaries etc. He could list them as agents, but they didn’t get the opportunity to be agents and therefore could not advance. He used anyone and anything that could help him get and maintain power. He had thousands of agents engaged in acquiring information he could use against his enemies and in support of his friends. Gentry maintains that the agents were honest, hardworking patriots who had no idea how the information they gathered was used. Maybe so.The book is extensively footnoted and documented.

  • Tore
    2018-12-03 21:11

    Pretty disturbing stuff, the FBI for 50 years, did more to chase the people working for civil liberties and equality, than organised crime and corrupt politicians. Hoover for a long time denied the existence of the Mafia, and the evidence against the corrupt politicians he used to blackmail them, to ensure his own position and reputation. He enriched himself, and was a virtual dictator, just as volatile as any of them with regard to his employees. How many innocents died because of FBI interference? They were setting black right activist groups up against each other, declining to protect witnesses who were killed.... It must have been hundreds of casualties. All because Americas top cop for 48 years, was himself a crook, and with crimes that that would have amounted to decades in prison, just for his financial aberrations. With Hoover's death, a president was brought down not long after, and the FBI was forced to change. And today, a former FBI director is perhaps our best hope for indicting the crook currently occupying the White House.

  • David A-S
    2018-11-21 16:57

    Gentry's Hoover pulls back the curtain on the wizard of DC. Over the course of 8 presidents and various cultural changes, Hoover hovers under the belly of Washington keeping power over his dominion through blackmail and organization. The details demonstrate an ethics of justification bent on acquiring power and privilege. There was also a fine attention to hero making. In other words, Hoover was a dictator-in-the-making stuck in a democracy. The fright delivered is magnified when Gentry makes clear the leading institution of justice was actual being driven by a racist, anti-semite paranoid caricature, who loved a scandal as much as power. While the book is well done and incredibly well-researched, it slowly hammers your soul.

  • Beth
    2018-12-05 00:21

    J. Edgar Hoover is a fascinating topic for a book, and Gentry has done an amazing job researching his subject. However, there are some issues that made this book difficult to plow. As others have mentioned in this forum, there are way too many characters to keep track of, and, as the narrative jumps around in time quite a bit, it is difficult to remember who is who and who did what. The author goes into great detail about certain issues, but assumes the reader is very knowledgeable about other matters, which makes the reading tough going at times. I learned quite a bit from the book, and it certainly reinforced my opinion of Hoover, but it was not an easy or very pleasant read.

  • Philippe Bogdanoff
    2018-12-08 18:55

    Amazing book about extraordinary person. Long read, but it is worth it. J Hoover lived through 8 presidents and 16 Attorney Generals. What I did not know, that Mr. Hoover was behind Senator McCarthy, supplying senator with the list of communists and and their associates.For me, being raised in Soviet Union, with mandatory reading of Daily Worker during English lessons, knowing the biography of famous freedom fighter Gus Hall (the head of CPUSA during my school years). Therefore the best quote from the book for me is “only two people in the USA took communism seriously – J Hoover and Gus Hall” )))))

  • Jack Elliott
    2018-11-20 19:13

    It's strange to think Hoover was considered a hero at one time because he was nothing but a criminal with a twisted sense of justice. The only reason he lasted as long as he did was because he blackmailed anyone who threatened his position. He had no respect for civil liberties or the the Constitution nor the rule of law. This book offers great insight into the lawless reign of a sick man mad with power.

  • antonio arroyo
    2018-11-28 20:16

    TediosoMuy difícil de terminar. Muuuy. Detallista lo importante aquí es. Por qué. Alguien tan ambicioso. Tan ávido de poder que solo veía sus propios intereses logró. Fundar una gran institucion. Allá y. Aquí que. Hay. Tantos así. NO

  • Deborah Gibson
    2018-11-23 00:17

    Great book What a informative books about the influence J E Hoover had on our history more than just the forming of the FBI from the 1920's til his death 1972. history . All that Hoover had his

  • Liz
    2018-11-30 20:13

    Fascinating and disconcerting

  • Ironman Ninetytwo
    2018-12-03 21:51

    One of the first serious history books I ever read, I expected this to be average and then I expected to donate the book. I'm not donating it.Despite being personally and organizationally useful against crime, Hoover and the FBi had all the hallmarks of any successful totalitarian organization. The inviolable rules were in fact violable to benefit the few. What rules? Oh, petty and not so petty graft and abuse of power. Money paid the FBI by the networks was somehow subverted to Hoover's gain and a select few of the others. The rank and file of the FBI were taxed to support further graft. Inspectors visiting regional offices had to be bribed to give good performance reviews, whether accurate or inaccurate. Peoples' careers were subject to the whims of those above them. This created a cult of personality. Anyone who advertently or inadvertently gained power or publicity rivaling the director's found his (yes, his) career shortly terminated. So the FBi wound up with a buncy of sycophantic administrators clamoring for Hoover's love and attention. So reminiscent of Stalin's administration."Criminals" were pursued less based on their crime than for personal or publicity reasons. Organized crime was ignored and even denied for years in favor of other safer and easier crimes and only pursued when local police action embarrassed the FBI and forced it's hand. What else determined which crimes were or were not pursued? Ability to classify the criminal as communist was a big one. Race was another big one. And same-sex orientation or other non-normative sexuality was yet another. Hoover's FBI was deeply racist and sexist and homophobic. Once Hoover made up his mind, it didn't matter whether the allegations were true. Careers were destroyed based strictly on allegations that a person was communist or was gay. Hoover did nothing he didn't have to to fight for civil rights, in many cases assisting the KKK in preventing civil rights.How did he retain power so long? The ability to embarrass politicians by what he knew about what they had done. What crimes had the committed before getting elected, to get elected, or after? It seems like every single politician had benefited from graft, and many from election irregularities, especially Johnson and Kennedy. Many had sexual dalliances or same-sex experiences that could be used to destroy their careers. Every President Hoover worked for wanted to force him out, but none could.Least of all Kennedy. Kennedy bought Illinois' results, even though it turned out he didn't need Illinois given Johnson's ability to control Texas' results. And his history of pre-marital and extra-marital affairs with spies, models, and actresses was astonishing. If Kennedy could have admitted those affairs then it would have been his business (except for those who worked in the White House, or were procured, as many were, by senior White House staff). But he couldn't admit them, and was held hostage by both Hoover, who ran the FBI as he liked, and also by organized crime. Hoover was free to continue to suppress civil rights contrary to Kennedy's wishes. And nobody's civil rights were suppressed more than King's who was subjected to suppression, and tapping, and ultimately Hoover tried to control him through his non-normative sex practices in ways that were appalling, like forging a letter purporting to be from an African American colleague to Corretta King describing King's sins.The tone is understated, lending credibility to the author's tale. Much of the story is unknown or controversial, due to the FBI's and other parties' willful destruction of records. The author's take on history, no matter how shocking, is alluded or dropped without breathless delivery common in some of the other revelatory books I have trusted less. The author's slant seems liberal and pro civil rights, so the discussion of the Kennedys doesn't seem slanted.

  • Dr.J.G.
    2018-11-26 20:02

    When a person in power is unfair, unjust, willing to use any and every means in his power to finish off enemies by any route whatsoever, using illegal means and lies without any compunction, things have the potential to become no less frightening than they were in fascist or nazi or any other totalitarian dictatorship where one must put away one's own mind, thoughts, capability of thinking and perception, and either dumb down if that is allowed or be forced to actively participate and promote the agenda of the dictator in power. For this it is not necessary that the person in power be a head of state or a political party, a figurehead will do for those purposes - the real power may sometimes lie elsewhere, such as it does when an army chief attacks the country that his president or prime minister is holding peace talks with, or an intelligence agency - read spying agency - sabotages the agenda of the president or the prime minister and promotes the agenda he approves instead. J. Edgar Hoover had not only such power as the chief of FBI for several decades but the character and the inclination that would use it to the full to spy, blackmail, threaten and incapacitate various people in US who could have done far more good to people of US and people of the world if let by Hoover - and this included presidents of the US, Kennedys, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, and many more including every innocent artist and writer persecuted during the McCarthy era. He used illegal tapping and surveillance to his purpose without so much as informal permission from any authority, indeed a US president would not be even informed and could moreover be blackmailed by Hoover. He kept blackmail files and was not above using them. Legend goes that after death of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy asked Hoover "Did you guys kill my brother" with tears in his voice. Such was the power and the known character of the person who held the position of the chief of FBI for several decades and controlled various things including investigations against great persona he blackmailed, sometimes with success. John Lennon was a strong influence against right wing until his personal life - the possibility of the couple never seeing Yoko's daughter again, or being deported to England - made them cancel a few public engagements and helped Republicans come to power. Hoover's role in McCarthy persecution of artists and writers and so forth made the whole persecution pervasive and fearsome, this was the current history that prompted Arthur Miller's writing of The Crucible, about Salem witch trials, the eerily similar atmosphere of the two times being obvious to anyone that lived through the McCarthy era. With a person or more like this in power it is hardly far from credibility that the murders of Kennedys and Martin Luther King might just have been not by the persons named and conveniently finished off by other killers. Was Hoover responsible for killings of Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr? This book with research into recently released papers might give a clue. He did attempt to blackmail Martin Luther King Jr and used extensive surveillance of invasive nature to find a way, as in other cases. And Martin Luther King Jr. knew he was going to get murdered just the way he was, except he chose to not be shied away from his public role and keep silent and hiding. Kennedys neither of them knew until it was too late. And thus the long rule of the right wing in US with short intervals of sane intelligent others that did not please Hoover, the latter including Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

  • Craig Adamson
    2018-11-21 18:01

    This book was okay. I would only go back and read it again to gain a later historical perspective for something else i might read.I had thought it was going to be more dirty or titilating or something. There was really nothing shocking in this book in regards to scandal. Even though I'm dissing the book because of the lack of taudry details on various things, it might be a better book by not going into all that garbage. The shock to me had more to do with Hoover and his personal use of the FBI to ruin anyone and everyone he didn't like -including former friends and employees. He used his power and authority to bully and intimidate and manipulate everyone in his orbit. Really a sad person. In retrospect, its too bad the FBI building is named after him. While no specific details in place it sounds like Nixon (who ultimately is portrayed as a coward much like Hoover himself) and Congress had opportunities to squash the project or at least change the name of the building from being dedicated to Hoover and his ego. They of course chickened out.Congress and mulitple presidents were unable or unwilling to kick this jerk employee out of office in the over 50 years he was in place. They also did not come to the aid of any of the people who made attempts to unseat Hoover. So it comes as all the more a disgusting scene when the work of the subsequent directors and Attorney Generals would not investigate the whereabouts of his secret files. Loyal employees... including his secretary of 50 years, Helen Gandy, surreptitiously moved files, destroyed them, destroyed evidence, and then lied under oath in numerous trials and court hearings related to the details about the FBI, as well as during the settling Hoover and Clyde Tolson's estate. Quite a farce. Just like the FBI's inability to work with other agencies such as CIA and NSA, etc. Hoover is treated pretty even-handedly. His good and bad traits are examined. But as the reader I retained mostly the idea that Hoover was an egotistical jerk and was more or less an immature adult. It gives me all the more reason to be concerned about the FBI's inability to work on behalf of national security to prevent the Oklahoma City and NYC bombings in the past 20 years. Very innept in many areas and it was essentially set up that way by J Edgar Hoover from the start. Less of a national hero and more of a national embarassment.

  • Clif
    2018-11-15 17:01

    We live in an age of cynicism born of realism. It got its start some time ago due to the revelations made about American history up to the end of the Vietnam war.Surely eligible for the top spot in the gallery of rogues that rose to power is J. Edgar Hoover, a man who deliberately used his position to further his own goals and consolidate his personal power, only incidentally impacting the real criminal activity that he was supposed to pursue. He built an empire of fear - not of the law, but of his knowledge of the personal lives of others, built with the effort of a huge bureaucracy that operated solely at his command.Sadly, there are no good guys in this story. Each of the Presidents that served during Hoover's reign fell under his power not because he had any authority over them but because the seductive appeal of the illegal services he could provide were irresistible.The issue is stark: we put people in jail for minor infractions of the law such as possession of a tiny amount of drugs even as the top law enforcement people were running wild abusing the rights we all should enjoy under our constitution.I saw a bumper sticker that said "I love my country but I fear my government". The owner of that car might well have read this book. There is reason to worry and that's the greatest value in Gentry's work, it makes you properly suspicious of authority.The most odious account was Richard Nixon's eulogy for Hoover. No greater duplicity could have been uttered. It's been said the great benefit of democracy is the power to remove from office. Unfortunately, the information needed to make such a decision usually isn't available until long after an abuser has retired.My only regret about reading this book is that I read the 1999 edition instead of the latest. Undoubtedly, more information is revealed in the newer edition.Though this book is over 700 pages long, there isn't a single page of dull reading. One has to be awed at the skill with which Hoover ran his empire. I would recommend it to every American. It is a horror story.

  • Jo Stafford
    2018-12-09 23:05

    I have long been convinced that no individual in US history did more to obstruct Americans exercising their constitutional rights than J. Edgar Hoover. Curt Gentry's monumental biography of Hoover has confirmed my opinion. This book is detailed and information-packed and requires concentrated reading. It is a frightening look at how the FBI under Hoover's decades-long directorship snooped, burgled, wiretapped, invaded people's privacy, and cold-bloodedly destroyed reputations and lives. Hoover emerges as paranoid, bitter, jealous, cold, vindictive, deeply prejudiced, and manipulative. He was also a master bureaucrat who kept files on everybody, friends and enemies alike, and used the information to blackmail presidents, members of Congress, and journalists, among others. The longer Hoover was in power, the bolder he and his FBI became in the use of smear campaigns against both Washington power-brokers and the Left and civil rights organizations. Surely the most despicable tactic to emerge from his office was the letter sent anonymously, but penned by top Hoover aide William Sullivan, to Dr Martin Luther King, urging him to commit suicide.Why was Hoover so small-minded, so petty, so obsessed with other people's sex lives, so tyrannical? Gentry's book doesn't answer this question. Perhaps it is impossible to know. Hoover, who loved prying into other people's lives, kept his own life firmly under wraps. (For all the speculation and rumors that his relationship with Clyde Tolson was sexual, it's never been proved, and Gentry wisely avoids drawing conclusions.) There is no sense that Hoover had an inner life, that he ever felt he needed to reflect on his actions or motivations. In this sense, he remains largely unknowable.Eleanor Rooosevelt once described Hoover's FBI as an American Gestapo. Read this book and you'll see why.

  • Kip
    2018-11-16 22:14

    Curt Gentry's biography of the FBI's first and longest-tenured director reads like one of Hoover's famously lengthy memos - a bloated chore. While well researched, Gentry shows little affection for the lay reader, introducing voluminous casts of characters that pop up periodically without warning or explanation, requiring frequent page-turning for those not well-versed in the history of the Bureau - or the federal government for that matter - from the years 1925-1990. What begins as great promise for an in-depth look at the secretive life of the much-maligned founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation quickly becomes what's known among journalists as "notebook dump." Gentry's work is little more than 700 pages of extremely well-researched fodder slapped together in what can only be called an incoherent narrative that reads as an overlong expose without substance.I may be a bit too hard on the book, which was published in 1991 and likely shocked many of those still reeled in by Hoover's cult of personality as something of an American folk hero, but little of what I read in Gentry's work surprised me or changed the way I felt about the man or the agency he created. An almost deplorable lack of information on Hoover's early life, before a career in the federal government gripped him, is present - unfortunate because it is the most compelling content for the casually interested reader (such as myself) and ends far too quickly, but teases them to continue on.That is how I would describe my experience with "The Man and the Secrets": three days of very entertaining reading followed by a month of bureaucratic memoranda regurgitation. Gentry provides a great history, but for those wanting more the book reads hollow. Another edit, with an eye for narrative flow, would have benefitted the text greatly.

  • Gerry Beane
    2018-11-25 18:54

    I thought that I knew a fair amount about J Edgar Hoover. As it turns out, I had only been aware of the very tip of the iceberg about this complex and long serving director of the FBI. During the 60s I had been aware of some of the over reaches by the FBI, about their involvement in the JFK assassination investigation, about their blackmail of the Kennedy brothers, and about their possible investigations of members of Congress. But this book reveals the extent of these efforts and the flawed reasoning behind them. I can only hope that the publication of this book in 1991 and it's revealing information has helped to correct many of the deficiencies, missteps and salacious intrigues that were perpetrated by J Edgar Hoover and some of his staff and successors. Of course the headline that captures the imagination of many is the purported sexual relationship with his long-time second in command, Clyde Tolson. With the progress of understanding regarding gay, lesbian, transgender and transsexuals, at least in some corners of our society, in recent years puts an ironic, retrospective twist on Hoover's apparent fear and persecution of "sexual deviants" of all types. It is a complex story with hundreds of names of individuals, organizations and acronyms - some well-known, some mere bit players, but the author helps to bring them into focus and where they fit into the history of this controversial figure. Many issues are left unresolved; Hoover's generosity to friends on one hand and his unremitting character destruction of his enemies, even after their deaths. Also unresolved is the final disposition of Hoover's "secret files" that gave him the power to remain director for such an extended period of time. Yet the author gives as complete a profile as possible of a man whose career was built on secrecy.

  • Kayris
    2018-12-10 16:52

    Holy moly.First of all, it took me a month to read this book. I picked it up after I saw the movie J. Edgar, with Leonardo Dicaprio, and wondered how historically accurate the movie was. I also realized that while my education taught me a lot about the American Revolution, the Civil War, and tons of European history, it was woefully inadequate when it comes to recent US history.Also, there were several reasons it took so long, besides the fact that it's 700+ pages long.The author spent 15 years writing this book and it is meticulously researched. The amount of info in the text is mindblowing. There are also a lot of people, and sometimes I would lose track of who someone was and have to backtrack to remind myself. It's also heavily footnoted, which slowed me down.The government really loves its initials too. FBI, CIA, OSS, HUAC, ABC, XYZ...again I frequently had to backtrack to remember what a particular agency or committee was all about. And having never heard the expression "feet of clay" before, sometimes I had to look things up.I also, like many reviewers, would put the book aside to do further reading on topics covered very minimally in the book.Like many reviewers, I found this book to be slightly one sided. It's obvious Gentry has a deep dislike for Hoover. I'm not convinced that his attitiude is unwarranted--Hoover was a frightening man. (As a side note, I'm sure Hoover is spinning in his grave these days. It's entertaining to wonder what he would make of Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer et al, gay marriage, 9/11 or Cindy Sheehan.)All in all, I really really enjoyed it.

  • Ashley Webb
    2018-11-18 21:02

    This book was a surprise to me, I was really taken aback by how much influence Hoover had over the American Political establishment, he was able to manipulate Presidents and both houses of Congress, often preventing anything he disagreed with from being passed. The FBI's, more often than not illegal, surveillance of American politicians, activists and anyone he didn't approve of, allowed him to blackmail people to get his way. This has a modern parallel with the recent Snowden revelations. President Truman or Eleanor Roosevelt, I think, said he was creating an American Gestapo. To a certain extent he did. The only thing this book doesn't say he did was murder. But some people were driven to suicide. He was pleased that the Kennedy's and Martin Luther King were assassinated. What they were trying to do did not meet with his approval.As soon as he died, his cronies started shredding a lot of his files, many of which would have incriminated them.So from our point of view in the 21st he was a corrupt Lawman, who ruled the FBI like a dictator and wielded too much power over the elected representatives that they were almost impotent.After a bit the book does get repetitive as someone tries to something, Hoover doesn't like it. Uses his influence over the best placed people to get his way. Not a very nice man.

  • Shawn
    2018-11-28 16:20

    Hoover knew who killed the Kennedys, saw it coming, and didn't do anything because he hated Ivy League Liberals, and how they reminded him of where he came from. It's a tragedy that his secret files never saw the light of day. Hoover was a criminal, but he was also brilliant. He was one of the first who realized that controlling the flow of spurious information about powerful people was where true power lay. He had the goods on everyone, helped elect several Presidents, and kept his job as head of the FBI until the day he died. Gentry makes great use of what information is still intact about the infamous FBI director. The Kennedys claim isn't made, but once you read all the circumstances around their 2 deaths, it becomes obvious that dark clouds of dissent were gathering around both of them, and Hoover did nothing, less than nothing, to protect them. If Robert Kennedy had never gone after the Mafia when he was Attorney General, he and John would still be alive today.This book is an amazing cross-section of 20th century U.S. political history. It's like all the dirty secrets not told in the Rand-McNally version. Hoover's Machiavellian tactics play out like Boris Kasparov vs. the Supercomputer. Such a fun read....

  • Dennis
    2018-11-18 22:10

    For 48 years Hoover ruled the FBI. He built it into an institution that had its tentacles into nearly every branch of government, including the White House. He had files on thousands of individuals from the Presidents under whom he served, to Congressmen and Senators, to movie stars to important business leaders. The material in his files struck fear in the hearts of those he investigated and upon whom he eavesdropped. His power was largely due to the dirty little secrets he had on these individuals. While he saw himself as morally pure, he clearly was not.This book is a must read for those who enjoy biographies of important leaders. Some of what one reads is pretty common knowledge while other revelations will blow your socks off. It is not a fast read as it is well footnoted (to clarify and put into context that which is being presented) and documented. While Hoover's people destroyed nearly all of the documents he had on file, some escaped and gave the author what he needed to create this history of a complex and controversial man.

  • Apple
    2018-11-28 22:13

    I am SO happy to be finished with this book. Don't get me wrong, it was a good, detailed read, but there was so much information that each page needed several minutes of reading. If I could sum it up in several words, Hoover was an ambitious, determined, shrewd person whose dedication to his job and his keen foresight and efforts to cover his butt secured him almost 50 years in the highest investigative body in the US government. It has to be mentioned that he achieved this by instilling fear in anybody who came at odds with him, even blackmailing them, tapping their phones and having them followed. Hoover was definitely not a man you could mess with. But with old age, this seemingly formidable being started flailing leading to the exposure of the many illegal acts and unconstitutional activities he and his FBI agents spearheaded and took part in. That being said, he is to be considered one of, if not, the most influential person of his time. In that he should be lauded but hopefully his legacy, if any, will not be repeated in the present or in the future.