J. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography

Overview

A True History of Violence (and Crimefighting, Politics, and Power)

In the hands of gifted cartoonist Rick Geary, J. Edgar Hoover's life becomes a timely and pointed guide to eight presidents?from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon?and everything from Prohibition to cold war espionage. From a nascent FBI's headlinegrabbing tracking down of Dillinger and Machine Gun Kelly in the 1930s to Hoover's increasingly paranoid post-WWII authorizing of illegal wiretaps, blackmail, and ...

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Overview

A True History of Violence (and Crimefighting, Politics, and Power)

In the hands of gifted cartoonist Rick Geary, J. Edgar Hoover's life becomes a timely and pointed guide to eight presidents—from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon—and everything from Prohibition to cold war espionage. From a nascent FBI's headlinegrabbing tracking down of Dillinger and Machine Gun Kelly in the 1930s to Hoover's increasingly paranoid post-WWII authorizing of illegal wiretaps, blackmail, and circumvention of Supreme Court decisions, J. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography provides a special window into the life of an outsized American and a bird'seye view on the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Geary returns to the finely detailed style of historical case study made so fascinating in his Library of Victorian Murder series, this time moving away from visceral horror to the arena of political power and the transgressions wrought by those who wield it. He traces the life and career of the creator of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, weaving a compelling portrait of a man isolated by authority and his desire for secrecy while simultaneously making a name for himself and his agency in the war against organized crime. But behind the details known to the public were petty power plays, possible connections to La Cosa Nostra and rumors of homosexuality and cross-dressing. All surrounded a government official whose ultraconservative ways and fascistic tactics bordered on the criminal when they suited his goals, and led Eleanor Roosevelt to consider the FBI one step away from becoming an American Gestapo. Encompassing events from the Great Depression, WWII, McCarthyism, the Cold War, the Kennedy administration, the Civil Rights movement and Watergate, Geary's work serves as an engrossing, easy to take history lesson. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up -This comprehensive, highly detailed account is captivating. Hoover, director of the FBI for nearly 50 years, has been elevated to iconic status in the annals of U.S. history and pop culture. His story is well represented by this master illustrator's old-fashioned, highly stylized, black-and-white line art and high-crime drama-superhero comic-book format. Geary has done his homework: the cover and splash page distinctly mimic 1930s advertisements for the popular Warner Brothersa' film G-Men , showcasing a machine-gun-toting, dapper Hoover looking much like James Cagney, who played him in the movie. The author provides a fascinating look at how pop culture (films, radio, pulp magazines, comic strips, etc.) worked to aggrandize the status of Hoover, who craftily used entertainment for propagandistic and self-promotional purposes. He befriended the likes of Jack Warner, who glamorized the FBI in his film. An interesting point that Geary reiterates is Hoover's strategy to remain nonpartisan while wooing presidential supporters from both parties. He maintains an unbiased, objective point of view, but still dishes up some dirt. This excellent graphic biography makes the life of Hoover and the history of the FBI both accessible and engaging.-Jodi Mitchell, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The life and times of America's top cop, by prolific author/artist Geary (The Bloody Benders, 2007, etc.). His work for National Lampoon and Heavy Metal illustrates his long-standing taste for the pulpier side of things, but Geary also does solid work in historical comics, albeit ones with a gruesome true-crime slant. He brings the same clean artwork and swift but steady pacing to his graphic biography of J. Edgar Hoover. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1895, Hoover came from a religious clan whose "family business" was the federal bureaucracy. Obsessively hardworking from an early age, with few friends but a careful eye toward staying politically neutral in order to advance his career, Hoover swiftly moved up the ladder from a lowly Department of Justice post procured for him by a cousin in 1917 to head the Bureau of Investigation by 1924. Geary expertly marks the exacting effort with which Hoover set out during the Depression years to transform the oft-ignored, nearly powerless bureau into a well-publicized and widely idealized national crime-fighting, gangster-busting force. Hoover was obsessed almost equally by fighting what he saw as the immoral poison of liberalism and by consolidating his power with that of the FBI-the two often seen as the same thing to Hoover and, thanks to his intense media lobbying, to the nation itself. In the postwar years, he became the embodiment of an American reactionary. Geary doesn't stoop to rumor-mongering about Hoover's sexuality-he points out that the cross-dressing story is most likely false-but he gives the director's lengthy, marriage-like relationship with second-in-command Clyde Tolson the importance it deserves, particularly since Hoover publiclyproclaimed such a rigid, outdated view of sexual morality. As solid, thrilling and informative a guide to the life of the America's most powerful authoritarian as one could ask for.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809095032
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 1/8/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 6.09 (w) x 8.05 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

An award-winning cartoonist and illustrator, Rick Geary has worked for Marvel Entertainment Group, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Heavy Metal, and has contributed to National Lampoon and The New York Times Book Review.

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