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Secrecy and Power

Life of J.Edgar Hoover

By (author) Richard Gid Powers
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Cornerstone, London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Hutchinson
Published: 31st Aug 1987
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
Weight: 1160g
ISBN-10: 0091725984
ISBN-13: 9780091725983
Barcode No: 9780091725983

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Kirkus US
Powers' previous book dealt with the longtime FBI chief from a specific angle: G-Men: Hoover's FBI in American Popular Culture. Here, drawing on scads of interviews and an exhaustive search through FBI and presidential files (100 pages of endnotes append the book), Powers offers a superbly rendered and - importantly - a balanced presentation of the full spectrum of Hoover's life and influence. The author's approach here is sociological, seeing as the driving motive in Hoover's life a rigorous preservation of small-town values. A sheltered childhood spent in Washington, D.C.'s, Seward Square, "a microcosm of white, Protestant, middle-class America," inculcated in Hoover a Puritan ethic which he transferred easily to the Justice Dept. in 1917. Winning favor through long hours and a willingness to speak his mind - ironic given his later refusal to brook opposition - and lionized by the press for his post-WW I suppression of the budding American Communist Party, Hoover rose meteorically to become Director of the FBI by 1924, at age 29. For the next 40 years, he enjoyed an astounding popularity (partly because of clever media manipulation, detailed by Powers), with his many triumphs - the capture of Dillinger, the penetration of fifth columnists during WW II, the KKK in the 60's, the molding of the Bureau into a premier intelligence and enforcement agency, etc. - thrilling the American public and outweighing his two major failures, explored here in full: Pearl Harbor and the JFK assassination. Powers treats Hoover's gradual fossilization and the well-publicized tyrannies of his later years in depth, emphasizing souring relationships with Presidents. Within this dramatic tale of power gained and hoarded at highest levels is woven the subplot of Hoover's personal life; as to the allegations of homosexuality, Powers takes no definite stand, but, based on the evidence, admits a likelihood. An excellent biography; a penetrating portrayal of the use and abuse of power, for good and evil. (Kirkus Reviews)