Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies
  • Alternative view 1 of Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies
  • Alternative view 2 of Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies

Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies

by Marc Aronson
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A fascinating and timely biography of J. Edgar Hoover from a Sibert Medalist.

"King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. . . . You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation."
Dr. Martin Luther King received this demand in an anonymous letter in 1964. He believed that the

…  See more details below

Overview

A fascinating and timely biography of J. Edgar Hoover from a Sibert Medalist.

"King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. . . . You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation."
Dr. Martin Luther King received this demand in an anonymous letter in 1964. He believed that the letter was telling him to commit suicide. Who wrote this anonymous letter? The FBI. And the man behind it all was J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI's first director. In this unsparing exploration of one of the most powerful Americans of the twentieth century, accomplished historian Marc Aronson unmasks the man behind the Bureau- his tangled family history and personal relationships; his own need for secrecy, deceit, and control; and the broad trends in American society that shaped his world. Hoover may have given America the security it wanted, but the secrets he knew gave him
— and the Bureau — all the power he wanted. Using photographs, cartoons, movie posters, and FBI transcripts, Master of Deceit gives readers the necessary evidence to make their own conclusions. Here is a book about the twentieth century that blazes with questions and insights about our choices in the twenty-first.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“his book is not and should not be just about Hoover,” Aronson (Trapped) tells readers in the epilogue to this wide-ranging, extensively researched, and detailed biography of the controversial 20th-century FBI director. He’s not kidding: Hoover’s story unfolds against the tumultuous immigrant history of the U.S. and the growth of the FBI, which Hoover molded for more than 40 years. Hoover emerges as a magnified example of abusive governmental power, portrayed as a controlling conformist who was organized, intelligent, sexually suppressed, and manipulative. Aronson’s stimulating questions (“ho is the bigger liar: the capitalist who teases the poor with images of goods they cannot afford or the Communist who hypnotizes the masses with empty slogans and false ideals?”), and his occasional use of first- and second-person, will wake up readers accustomed to less in-your-face historical narratives. The book does an excellent job of creating parallels between America’s anticommunist efforts and the current fight against terrorism as it questions the price of security and the media’s roles in keeping secrets. Period photographs, movie posters, cartoons, and FBI documents supplement a biography abounding in historical context. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ken Wright, Writers House. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Marc Aronson has written a powerful and thought-provoking book. His devastating, but nuanced portrait of the life and career of J. Edgar Hoover captures the impact of the long-term FBI director on American politics and thought. His is a cautionary tale of the costs of secrecy and of the fears engendered by blind fears over hyped security threats.
—Athan Theoharis, professor emeritus at Marquette University, expert on J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI

MASTER OF DECEIT is simply outstanding. Marc Aronson explores the intersection of personality and history in a way that not only records the times and events, but actually illuminates them.
—Walker Dean Myers, a three-time finalist for the National Book Award and author of MONSTER, winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award

A powerful book that serves its title well. Aronson untangles the complex history of a master (J. Edgar Hoover) who created, manipulated, and guarded the nation’s "truth." This is an important book, not just for its subject matter but also for its approach. Aronson skillfully shows that history is more than fact; history is a location: it’s where the reader positions himself or herself and what the "masters" do with the facts. A riveting read.
—Susan Campbell Bartoletti, author of HITLER YOUTH, a Newbery Honor Book and a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

MASTER OF DECEIT is a masterpiece of historical narrative, with the momentum of a thrilling novel and the historical detail of the best nonfiction... This is as much about how history is written as it is about Hoover and his times... Written with the authority of a fine writer with an inquiring mind, this dramatic story is history writing at its best.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Aronson’s stimulating questions and his occasional use of first- and second-person, will wake up readers accustomed to less in-your-face historical narratives. The book does an excellent job of creating parallels between America’s anticommunist efforts and the current fight against terrorism as it questions the price of security and the media’s roles in keeping secrets. Period photographs, movie posters, cartoons, and FBI documents supplement a biography abounding in historical context.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Relying on wide reading and vast research, Aronson paints a nuanced and evenhanded portrait of a man who was complicated, almost certainly neurotic, and who had an iron will to control–both himself and others. Thoroughly discussing the FBI’s role in law enforcement, the McCarthy witch hunts and HUAC, campaigns against Dr. King and civil rights, and comparing the egregious violations of individual rights and due process committed by the agency to the conduct of post-9/11 containment and treatment of Arab Americans, this book is a must for high school students.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

VOYA - Alicia Abdul
Master of Deceit is best summed up by Aronson's last two lines: "I hope Master of Deceit shows that we must always question both the heroes we favor and the enemies we hate. We must remain open minded, even when the shadow of fear freezes our hearts." This is said specifically about the protagonist, J. Edgar Hoover, whose rise to power in the 1920s in the United States Justice Department created a sense of ease yet also unrest. In Aronson's portrayal, Hoover uses his power to protect the nation, sometimes illicitly, while also protecting his reputation. He was charismatic and controlling, which fueled the gossip mill and is repeatedly referenced. Between the photographs and documents, Aronson allows readers to pause and contemplate the viewpoint presented. Even as he seamlessly connects political and social past and present, there is a stunning amount of detail. In the age of multimedia, Aronson dutifully ties in movie titles and Internet sources to supplement specific incidents, constructing a richly researched biography highlighting a tumultuous period of American civil rights. Its popularity will depend on those recommending it to teens who enjoy spy novels or history lessons, and it will also be useful for researching the birth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hoover, or McCarthyism. But one underlying theme is to question the motives of America's foes and friends living within and outside of its borders—at what cost should Americans protect their freedoms? Reviewer: Alicia Abdul
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Through meticulous research and compelling evidence, Aronson portrays the scheming and manipulative director of the FBI who propelled himself to his position of absolute power by collecting and using information about everyone who crossed him or who had the potential ability to threaten his view of the world and himself. Illustrated throughout with large photographs, the book follows Hoover's rise to power and his willingness to crush those who opposed his views or his methods. The parallels between the Hoover years and the current political situation in Washington are carefully drawn and unmistakable. Readers will want to explore the implications of the actions of our own government in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center in September 2001 after reading about the use that Hoover and the FBI made of fear during the post-World War II years. It would make an excellent starting point for a class discussion about individual rights versus governmental responsibilities. The chapters are chronologically arranged so readers will find it easy to locate information about specific events or time periods. The extensive back matter includes credits and acknowledgements, an index, and an epilogue that explains the research that the author did before writing the book. It also includes comments from the author about the fear he experienced in writing the book. This is an impressive work from an author who has given us a number of well-written books about people or events in history. Very highly recommended. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
Library Journal
It is clear from the opening of Aronson’s chronicle of the life, career, and death of first FBI director J. Edgar Hoover that he considers the director’s 48-year reign to be a dark time for American civil liberties. Part 1 of the book begins, “Nothing in this book matters until you care about Communism,” offering some background for the modern (teen) reader who may require a refresher as to the whys behind the man’s rise to power. Aronson does not refrain from digging at Hoover’s secrets, sharing photographic evidence to support speculation about his sexuality and racial heritage. For readers (like myself) who agree with the author’s editorial position, the story serves as a cautionary tale about the evils that can be done to U.S. citizens by individuals whose mission it is to protect us. A fascinating portrait of a flawed and not altogether likable historical figure.

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
In fascinating detail, Aronson tells the story of America during J. Edgar Hoover's reign as head of the FBI and "the nearly fifty years of criminal activity that was his legacy." For today's students, Communism and anti-Communism are "just terms that appear on tests, like the Whig, Greenback, or Know-Nothing parties," but this volume brings alive the drama of the Cold War period and demonstrates its significance for readers now. Taking his title from Hoover's 1958 work on the dangers of Communism, Aronson writes about the dangers of a "security at all costs" mentality during the Cold War and, by extension, our post-9/11 world. He covers a large slice of history--the Palmer raids of 1919, the gangster era, the Scottsboro case, World War II, the Rosenbergs, Joseph McCarthy, the civil rights movement and Watergate--but this is no mere recitation of the facts; it's a masterpiece of historical narrative, with the momentum of a thrilling novel and the historical detail of the best nonfiction. With references as far-flung as Karl Marx, Stalin, Wordsworth, American Idol, The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings, this is as much about how history is written as it is about Hoover and his times. Extensive backmatter includes fascinating comments on the research, thorough source notes that are actually interesting to read and a lengthy bibliography. Written with the authority of a fine writer with an inquiring mind, this dramatic story is history writing at its best. (Nonfiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763650254
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
04/10/2012
Pages:
230
Sales rank:
524,773
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
1090L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Marc Aronson has a doctorate in American history and is a member of the graduate faculty in the library school at Rutgers. He is an editor and author of many award-winning books for young people, including War Is . . . Soldiers, Survivors, and Storytellers Talk about War, which he co-edited with Patty Campbell; Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert; and Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, the first Sibert Medal winner. Marc Aronson lives in New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >