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The True Story of J. Edgar Hoover and the F. B. I.

The True Story of J. Edgar Hoover and the F. B. I.

by Barry Denenberg

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This absorbing and detailed historical survey begins with the FBI's founding in 1908 (as the Bureau of Investigation) and concludes with the 1972 death of its controversial, longtime chief. Denenberg, the author of Nelson Mandela: No Easy Walk to Freedom , organizes his material around the significant events of the nearly 50 years that Hoover's presence affected--both positively and negatively--American political and social history. With a refreshingly skeptical yet straightforward tone, Denenberg presents extensive discussions of such topics as gangsterism during prohibition years, the red-baiting of the '50s, the active subversion of the civil rights and Black Power Movements, and domestic counterintelligence and illegal activities by the Bureau against anti-Vietnam War activists. Though Hoover's relationships with the various presidents are examined, it is his own personality that totally dominates throughout. Prudence may have dictated that recent scandalous revelations--detailed in Anthony Summers's biography for adults--be omitted here; by virtue of the import of these omissions, this work cannot be considered the complete portrait. Nonetheless, it remains a solid, workmanlike--and age-appropriate--biography. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-- Denenberg shows how Hoover took over a poorly funded, amateurish agency, and upgraded both the quality of the agents and the methods and techniques they use. He also shows how Hoover manipulated the press and the public, refused to acknowledge the Mafia, obsessed over communism, and used FBI surveillance capability to intimidate people inside and outside of government. His criticisms of his subject are fair, frank, and do not resort to sensationalism. The book is arranged in roughly chronological order, with chapters discussing the ways Hoover and his bureau dealt with various events in modern America. The book covers a great deal of material, and occasionally discusses events and people without offering sufficient background information. However, the author does show readers how the FBI, under Hoover's iron control, both reacted to changes in America and, at the same time, used its considerable power to try to influence their direction. Numerous black-and-white photos with interesting captions are a strong selling point. While it may not be as popular as Nash's Bloodletters and Badmen (Warner, 1983), this book is useful and readable. --Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO

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Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
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7.49(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

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