From The Secret Files Of J. Edgar Hoover / Edition 1

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Overview

Documents uncovered from the late FBI director's secret files reveal for the first time the shocking extent of FBI activities in collecting and using derogatory information about prominent Americans and political groups. Historian Athan Theoharis charges that Hoover was an "indirect blackmailer," exploiting the FBI's resources to serve the political interests of the White House and to advance his own political and moral agenda. None of the documents in five separate secret files was intended ever to be disclosed; Mr. Theoharis procured them after intensive research in FBI files using the Freedom of Information Act. The memoranda, letters, telephone transcriptions, and other materials printed here detail a wide range of excesses and include Hoover's providing information about political adversaries to the Johnson and Nixon White Houses; John F. Kennedy's affair with Washington gossip columnist Inga Arvad; FBI monitoring of Supreme Court clerks and staff; the tracking of Adlai Stevenson by the FBI as a homosexual; Hoover's interest in the drinking and sexual habits of congressmen; an anonymous letter attacking Martin Luther King, Jr., composed and sent to Dr. King by the FBI; and much more. Mr. Theoharis describes Hoover's ingenious Do Not File system as well as the FBI's Sex Deviate program and Obscene File.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Fascinating...this book simply cannot be dismissed.
— Stanley Kutler
Newsday
Hoover may have died without leaving us an autobiography that might have enriched history and gossip, but that loss has been handsomely repaired by Professor Athan Theoharis.
— Murray Kempton
The New York Times
Valuable.
— Herbert Mitgang
Newsday - Murray Kempton
Hoover may have died without leaving us an autobiography that might have enriched history and gossip, but that loss has been handsomely repaired by Professor Athan Theoharis.
Chicago Tribune - Stanley Kutler
Fascinating...this book simply cannot be dismissed.
The New York Times - Herbert Mitgang
Valuable.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These selections from Hoover's official and confidential file, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal how the former FBI director was able to advance his own bureaucratic, political and moralistic agenda by ``indirect blackmail'' throughout his 48-year tenure. Excerpts from memoranda, letters and phone transcriptions include FDR adviser Harry Hopkins's entreaty that the Bureau wiretap his residence and tail his wife; compromising conversations between Navy ensign John Kennedy and a gossip columnist suspected of being a German spy; Nixon staffer H. R. Haldeman's request for ``a rundown on homosexuals known and suspected in the Washington press corps''; and the full text of the notorious FBI-written letter encouraging Martin Luther King Jr. to commit suicide. As Theoharis aptly remarks, these files document the perils that unelected officials can pose for a constitutional government. Hoover's willingness to authorize illegal investigative techniques is clearly revealed here. Theoharis is a professor of history of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Today, years after his death, Hoover's name still sends shivers down many a spine in Washington. Theoharis, a coauthor with John Stuart Cox of a previous Hoover biography, The Boss ( LJ 6/1/88), has made skillful use of the Freedom of Information Act and public documents to compile a sketch via FBI files of Hoover's propensity for wiretapping, bugging, and developing files on public persons with or without the knowledge of his nominal boss, the U.S. Attorney General. After an insightful history of the Bureau, section one presents selected files examining the alleged and real sexual indiscretions of JFK, Robert Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr. Pointing out evidence against King, Theoharis notes that King tried to have Hoover fired, earning him the wrath of the FBI. Subsequent chapters examine the FBI's ``investigative'' techniques, its relationship with Presidents and the McCarthy committee, and the uses of public relations and the role of the director. Highly recommended for general libraries and specialized researchers. See also Curt Gentry's J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets , reviewed in this issue, p. 110.--Ed.--Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Booknews
Some of the sleaziest from J. Edgar Hoover's five secret files--none of the documents ever meant to be disclosed. Theoharis finally got to them through the Freedom of Information Act. There is a grim fascination in the wide range of surveillance and monitoring applied to nearly everyone but actual criminals. Published by Ivan R. Dee, Inc., 1332 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60622-2632. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
New York Times
Valuable.
— Herbert Mitgang
New York Newsday
Hoover may have died without leaving us an autobiography that might have enriched history and gossip, but that loss has been handsomely repaired by Professor Athan Theoharis.
— Murray Kempton
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566630177
  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee
  • Publication date: 3/1/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 391
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Athan Theoharis is professor of history at Marquette University. His many books include The Boss, From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover, Spying on Americans, Beyond the Hiss Case, Seeds of Repression, and The Yalta Myths. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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