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The Secrets of the FBI

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  768 ratings  ·  117 reviews
The Secrets of the FBI by New York Times bestselling author Ronald Kessler reveals the FBI’s most closely guarded secrets and the secrets of celebrities, politicians, and movie stars uncovered by agents during their investigations.

Based on inside access, the book presents revelations about the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, the recent Russian spy swap, Marilyn Monroe
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Hardcover, 296 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Crown Forum (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jason Koivu
Well, they ain't secrets no more!

And were they secrets in the first place? I guess "technically," but if we're being honest, come on, some of this stuff is just silly. Kessler tosses the FBI some grapefruits right up front in this one, giving the reader little vignettes of instances where the Bureau came away with mud on their face. It's like viewing their blooper reel: Agents foiled by cats and in-and-out jobs gone haywire by zany hijinks. *cue the laugh track!* I didn't have much hope for this
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Andd Becker
The author states that the events of 9/11 caused the FBI to shift its priority to preventing attacks. The FBI now works closely with the CIA. The author quotes a high-ranking FBI official as saying there is going to be "an attack using chemical, biological, or radiological material." Another high-ranking official agrees that the greatest threat is "an attack with weapons of mass destruction(WMD)."
Another scary threat, according to an FBI higher-up, is "the explosion by an enemy of a nuclear we
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Christina
This book is a seemingly random collection of anecdotes about the FBI throughout its history, apparently some of which the author already covered in one of his previous books about the FBI (which he made sure to mention several times). Some of the anecdotes were interesting -- like the details of how the FBI breaks into houses and businesses under surveillance -- but others just seemed tawdry and salacious, like about the sex scandals and orgies in the 1970s. Mostly I couldn't figure out why the ...more
Alla
“The Secrets of the FBI” by Ronald Kessler is an interesting investigation by the author of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s history, techniques, leaders, traitors, successes, failures, and its gradual evolution. The chapters vary in topic: anything from terrorism, to moles, to vignettes about creative ways of breaking into the suspect’s home to plant bugs, to brief salacious tidbits about celebs, to the complicated relationships with other agencies, to the FBI training grounds, to the new ...more
Matt
Kessler returns with an inside look at the secret side of the FBI. Nowhere near as clandestine as its CIA counterpart, the Bureau still has some secrets found within its closets, apart from the famed Hoover Era. Kessler examines the Bureau from many sides and during a number of time periods, offering up some interesting nuggets over the years, all gleaned from the numerous interviews he did for a previous book on the Bureau, as well as through new intel garnered from revised information and new ...more
Michael
Very repetitive.
Alisa Rodney
Fascinating accounts of FBI actions and practices since the time of J. Edgar Hoover. The book illuminates the methods, short-comings and successes of all directors since Hoover's time. This author has "inside" stories of the workings and relationships among field operatives and directors. He describes how activities were monitored, attacks on our soldiers and country were investigated. Kessler gives G.W. Bush credit for changing the FBI from an organiztion that mainly investigated prior actions ...more
Jay Connor
I picked up this book because I enjoyed Kessler's book on the Secret Service (reviewed here in 2009). Kessler's style in both is fairly meat and potatoes journalism: interviews to point of view to theme to repetition. What I think is most fascinating, is in taking these two books together. You are given a unique and telling view of the arc of these two organizations. The Secret Service seems to be stuck in a "last assassin" mindset, almost fully unprepared for the next set of threats to the Pres ...more
Randy Auxier
It was a slow week at our local B&N, a while back when I bought this book. Nothing new on the shelves that looked exciting, but I knew that the Clint Eastwood film about J. Edgar Hoover was coming out, and along with it, probably a renewed discussion of the FBI, then and now. With a yawn I scooped up this book and checked the calendar for releases of something better. Sure enough, now it pans out –new stuff from Stephen King, Umberto Eco, Gregory Maguire. It was the holiday shopping season, ...more
Deanna also on Leafmarks because I miss Marco
An interesting book as long as the reader remembers that it only gives the FBI side. Keeping that in mind, the book has much to offer.

The book shows how far the FBI has changed since the Hoover era. A change for the good on which both left and right can agree. In the later years of the Hoover era the FBI was not taken seriously by the other agencies of the Criminal Justice System. Post Hoover the Bureau has been more respected by other CJ agencies. The Tech Ops information was fascinating. The
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Melissa
Although Ronald Kessler’s The Secrets of the FBI is a nonfiction account of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, it reads like a spy novel. Action-packed and fast-paced, each chapter describes a different event in FBI history, including everything from how agents began using the phrase “More roast beef!” to how the Bureau caught Robert Hanssen – a surprisingly different account than offered by the movie Breach, which depicts the same story. While Breach makes it look like one agen ...more
Johnny Williams
Well well well - I thought maybe this time Kessler had developed some writing skills or at least hired a co-writer to help him along-- but no he winged it alone -- thus what we have is relatively long list of short some- very short- so called "secrets" of the FBI which are not secrets at all-- but if you are unfamiliar with the FBI and are curious to see some of the back office stuff -- this would be an OK book-- Its obvious- in my opinion- that in order to get the access Kessler did-- he had an ...more
Marca
Fascinating behind-the-scenes dish on the FBI. Discusses details on some cases that were in the news over the last twenty years, so even more interesting. My favorite take-away had to do with a cat. Some agents accidentally let a cat out of a home where they were planting bugs, so a dragnet was dispatched to find the cat (so homeowners would not know the FBI had been there). The tabby was finally located and returned to the house. The family dog growled and was very hostile to the cat and the ca ...more
Lee
In this book you learn a little of everything about the FBI and I was surprised and the amount of detail that was given here. I always thought The FBI was one big secret. I would say this book was a page turner but kind of dry in some parts. The pictures are interesting and give you something to look at. This book is so recent that it even talks about the killing of bin liden.
The book also goes into great detail about how corruption had been through out the FBI
To summarize this a good read.
Kathleen
From J. Edgar Hoover to 9/11 and beyond, Kessler describes the FBI in a very readable way through the decades. Many funny mishaps and close calls are profiled, especially in the beginning and the end of the book. Lots of secrets are revealed by a bureau that sometimes resembles the Keystone Cops. From now on, I'll always wonder when I see an accident or a bread truck in front of a building if it is legitimate or a diversion/cover-up for some bug planting.
Don
Interesting book, with some fascinating detail and unusually candid and up-to-date interviews. The book is, in tone, primarily a tribute to the FBI and to Robert Mueller, but is generally even-handed and very enlightening. One very annoying thing, however, is that the book reads a bit like a series of disconnected essays; it's sometimes as though the author has forgotten he's said something before.
Jeremiah
I learned: torture works.
Waterboarding and enhanced interrogation produced information that led directly to Osama Bin Laden.
J Edgar Hoover was odd but not as freaky as some rumors held.
Louis Freeh was a self promoting technology adverse disaster that set the department back years in fighting terrorism and corporate crime in the 2000's.
Mueller is probably the best director the FBI ever had.
Melody
I gasped. I laughed out loud. I couldn't stop turning pages. Definitely an entertaining and informative account of the FBI.

Will I read the sequel/companion/more books by this author? Yes. I probably won't seek them out immediately, but I'll definitely have an eye out for them. And it will be at the top of my list whenever I'm in the mood for non-fiction/true-crime again.
Zoe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott
I received this book in Audio form from a friend while I was in the hospital. I listened to it primarily this past autumn/winter. It is very contemporary in it's content. Not a lot about the early FBI days. Some chapters are rather dry and boring, but others are fantastic. I've shared it with others and we all agree that it's worth listening to for sure.
Tina
This didn't hold my interest nearly as well as his other ones. People who are very interested in issues surrounding 9/11 or past FBI Directors would probably enjoy this one. I was looking more for info on how the FBI runs today. Some of that was at the beginning of the book, but then it shifted gears.
Colleen
I chose to read this because I enjoyed Kessler's book on the Secret Service. Kessler's strength is in conducting thorough research, but he's not a great writer. The book is quite interesting and Kessler has sprinkled interesting anecdotes throughout, but the writing is choppy and not the best.
Heather
In the 60s, all of Washington had crazy sex parties. And spies went too! That's what I learned from this book. Some of it was a little boring, but most of it was truly interesting. Especially the backpack vaccuums that clean up when the FBI breaks into your house!
thegreatunknown
I'm not usually into exposing government secrets and talking about conspiracies, but this book was thrilling. Could it really be that stuff like this goes on? Is everything a coverup? I keep questioning everything now!
Frances
I found the book very interesting and will probably read his other one about the presidents. It makes you wonder why men who are suppose to work for the good of this country just can't get their egos in check.
Marjorie Ferrer
Leadership's influence on an organization and its ability to keep up with the times is an eye opener. Some of the shared stories of surveillance are comical and makes you shake your head.
Sue Callaghan
Really interesting... lots of recognizable events and what happened in the background with regard to the FBI.... well written... enjoyable if you like this kind of stuff!!!
Angie
I really like CIA/FBI?real life spy books. This was an interesting book. Some of the stories seemed...surprising. I marked it down one star because some chapters were boring.
Teardra
I thought this book was very interesting but parts of it were repetitive. I was also hoping to learn more about old case files and less about current ops strategies.
Meghan Palmer
I debated about giving it one star but some of the very short stories are interesting. For a journalist this is terrible writing; he repeats himself, writes in sound bites, over uses pronouns when several people are involved with a story so it becomes hard to follow and if you nothing or very little about history (i.e. Watergate, Vietnam war) his antidotes are hard to follow since there is little to no background. This book was introduced to me at the end of a Spy exhibit put on by a local museu ...more
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