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The Secrets of the FBI

3.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,058 Ratings  ·  145 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
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Crown Forum (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,097)
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Jason Koivu
May 20, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 18, 2012 Christina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2012
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
Aug 26, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Aug 24, 2012 Alla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Aug 12, 2011 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 18, 2011 Jay Connor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Against Censorship
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
Apr 09, 2012 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-2012
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
Dave Hoff
Can't say I feel safer knowing all these FBI ways of finding the info of the bad guys, criminals, terrorist, and Mafia. Bugs, cell phone monitoring, much digital stuff now, It's not J. Edgars FBI anymore. Good Directors, bad Directors, and the ugly, Kessler doesn't spare any.
Oct 30, 2011 Marca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2016 Azea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The entire book consists of multiple anecdotes and passages of what the FBI has done and what it has become. Kessler's clear contrast of the different FBI directors and how they act is a great insight into how the bureau presented itself through the many different directors. Many of the passages are directly related to and refute or confirm theories and conspiracies involving the FBI and so if one is particular about these things then it would be an excellent read. The writing style is a little ...more
Jonathan Lu
Jan 31, 2015 Jonathan Lu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting novel, moreso than his first that I read that was focused on the secret service. As opposed to that one which ends with a clear diatribe about the lack of funding/resourcing for the Secret Service to do its job, Kessler maintains a purely apolitical and high level of respect towards those men and women in the field as well as those who employ them.

Begins with the early foundation of the FBI, including a lengthy section dedicated to J. Edgar Hoover which Kessler uses to detail ju
Jan 09, 2012 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law-enforcement
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.
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.
Dec 07, 2011 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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.
Apr 14, 2014 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 21, 2013 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 14, 2012 Tina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
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.
Dec 07, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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!
Dec 03, 2014 Julia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like The Secrets of the FBI, I really did! I heard Ronald Kessler interviewed on The Diane Rehm Show several months, possibly years ago, and the book stuck in my head. So much so that even though I couldn't recall a single point from the interview by the time I actually ran into the book, I still could hear the likable voice of Ronald Kessler in my head, and borrowed it from the library with high expectations. If the book was on the Diane Rehm Show then it HAD to be great, aft ...more
May 12, 2012 thegreatunknown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
May 12, 2012 Frances rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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