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J. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  217 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A True History of Violence (and Crimefighting, Politics, and Power)

In the hands of gifted cartoonist Rick Geary, J. Edgar Hoover's life becomes a timely and pointed guide to eight presidents--from Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon--and everything from Prohibition to cold war espionage. From a nascent FBI's headlinegrabbing tracking down of Dillinger and Machine Gun Kelly in
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Hardcover, 112 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Hill and Wang
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Community Reviews

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Leo Horovitz
There's really not much to say about this. It's a short, straight forward tale of the life of Hoover with a focus, of course, on his years as head of the FBI. The tone is dispassionate, a mere list of facts in the shape of a straight narrative. The illustrations may take up a greater percentage of the pages, but the text is definitely in the center of focus, the illustrations are accompanying the text, even though it's in comic form. Speaking of the illustrations, they are okay, but not good, dr ...more
Jeff
The idea of Rick Geary profiling the life of J. Edgar Hoover makes an awful lot of intuitive sense, and the final product meets all expectations. Fresh off his superb Treasury of Victorian Murder series, Geary moves forward into the twentieth century, and this time gives us a look at the entire life of Hoover, the legendary and long-serving FBI director. [return][return]Geary's quick pacing and ability to capture a lot of information in a single page panel are the keys to his success in this vol ...more
Rick
This is much too think to be taken seriously. It is like reading that there is a seafood place in such a place and it serves food. A person who reads this will have no more of an understanding of J. Edgar Hoover than if they watched a 30 minute show on television. No this book combined poor artistry with next to no understanding of the subject matter or the subject. I strong recommend avoiding it as it tells nothing about the evolution of the FBI into a major crime fighting organization. Even th ...more
Snow
read for NoveList recommended reads project
Nicola Mansfield
As usual Geary's illustrations are a perfect match for his text and so detailed one can just look into them for ages. I thoroughly enjoy just looking at Rick Geary's work. I'm quite well read on Hoover and this brought nothing new to the table for me. This is a whirlwind basic biography through his 80 years of life and near 60 of those in the Federal bureaucracy business eventually starting an agency that would go on to be called the FBI, where he became the Director unofficially "for life". Fro ...more
Sam Quixote
J. Edgar Hoover was responsible for the creation of what is known today as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and could be claimed to have strongly influenced American, and subsequently global, history through his dossiers on politicians and other influential people. The man used intimidation and wire tapping, along with having his agents follow people and compile information on every aspect of life, to build himself an empire of secrets upon which he kept power until his death.

A Machiavellian
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Nick
Splendid. Concise, informative, appropriately illustrated, expresses a decent left-wing bias but quite fair and neutral overall. A much more entertaining read than a wikipedia article or a laboriously-long biography. This book will give you a good overview of this important and complicated 20th century figure. Big ole mini-summary/spoiler ahead...(view spoiler) ...more
Dani Peloquin
I love graphic novels. I think that they’re a fantastic medium to explore a multitude of topics. Sadly, besides memoirs, there are very few nonfiction graphic novels (I am aware of the contradiction in that statement). So when I stumbled upon Rick Geary’s graphic biographies, I felt like the graphic novel deities had granted my wish. Sadly, I don’t think that this series is all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I would stick to his series on Victorian era murders.

I am not going to rely the en
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Trebro
I first found Geary in a comics collection several years ago and have been reading him ever since. He mostly does 19th Century things, such as Lizzie Bordon or the assassination of James Garfield, so I was a bit surprised to find him moving so far forward in time.

As with all of Geary's work, this is a short, concise biography that sticks to established facts and doesn't pull punches in questioning what is usually known. While he doesn't spare Hoover's racism or his dictatorial efforts, Geary doe
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John
It's only an urban legend that Hoover was a cross-dresser? Wow! You learn the most amazing things from history books.

Geary's turned in another one of his fine histories in comic-book form, using the same dry narrative tone of his "Treasury of Victorian Murder" books. He sticks with the facts, throwing in a few allegations of Hoover's homosexuality, while letting the reader decide just how much the FBI director did to help or hurt the country he served.

The only weak spot in the book is the terri
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Bob
J. Edgar Hoover was a tyrant . And a strange person. Yet, he largely built the FBI from a small organization that was almost invisible in the beginning. Was the US better off because of him? I think so.
David

A rather disturbingly real look at J. Edgar Hoover, as told in a graphic novel format... Rick Geary is a master at this, and for those who have never read a beginning-to-end historical account of this VERY influential person in american history, this would be a perfect jumping off point.

Adults will find it facinating, and kids will find it easy to comprehend- but probably have lots of questions, considering today's political climate!

A great read for those who are just passingly curious- you migh
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Bret Sarbieski
This book is the story of J. Edgar Hoover, the man who revolutionized the FBI and changed it from a near-useless agency to the powerhouse it is today. It tells of Hoover's early years, and continued to follow his career as he rose from anonymity to the head of the FBI. It also focuses on the accomplishments of the FBI in taking down famous criminals, and how it became extremely popular through the media (movies, radio shows, ect.). I personally enjoyed reading this book, and anybody who is inter ...more
Kathleen
Because I have not previously been tempted to pick up a biography on Hoover, this graphic novel fits the bill of hitting the main points of Hoover's career in an easy to read and aesthetically interesting way. This is a very basic recap of his life and the editorializing by the author is mostly done through the black and white drawings of the various characters. Hoover's longevity in the inner circles of Washington power is impressive. While I'm not moved to read further about Hoover, I'm glad I ...more
Kate
Apr 11, 2009 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: comics
Rick Geary is such a history comics superstud. He keeps churning out one wonderfully-drawn and well-researched comic after another. This one had less of the usual experiments in composition, but his pen and ink work was divine as always. I think he may be getting even better at conveying the emotions of his subjects. There's something about a Rick Geary book--he does illustrations that look like they're directly from a photograph, but they seem to capture the soul of a person even more clearly t ...more
Kirsti
For a short biography, this book does a great job of putting J. Edgar Hoover in his historical context. Geary mentions the more outrageous allegations but also points out how little evidence there is for them. Illustrations are detailed and expressive.
HeavyReader
Nov 10, 2007 HeavyReader rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to HeavyReader by: people interested in how we came to live under the police state
The Lawrence Public Library bought a copy of this book, and I was glad to find it on the shelf so I could read it. I've been wanting to read it.

I thought it was a really good book that gives a lot of factual information about J. Edgar Hoover and how the FBI came into existence under his guidance. The author the book tries very hard to be objective, and the art is very nice.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in how we came to live under the police state that is the U.S.A.
Aurora
Quick, informative read about a guy I'm not sure I really understood before. This book had exactly much information as I wanted, and never crossed over into speculative psychoanalysis, wild conspiracy theory or even (very justified) liberal rage. Geary is so good at viewing his subjects with detachment, but I do agree that his style isn't a natural fit. His staid, woodcutish style is so perfect his in Victorian Murder series, I think I'd prefer he stick to what he does best.
Nick
This account of the life of J. Edgar Hoover wasn't as unflinching as I thought it might be. The author seems to hold an esteem for someone who I despise. It is unfair to speculate on that which can't be proven and I respect the author's choice to avoid scandal by sticking to the facts. The portrait that Hill and Wang paint is of an insecure man who holds quite a bit in common with Richard Nixon. The story does end up feeling sterile though. I suggest you pass on it.
James
the graphic novel version of j. edgar hoover. it's mostly politically neutral, with a tiny bit of pro-hooverism. however, it doesn't shy away from his aspects of bad-guy-ness, in that they show him building up the FBI to basically be a secret police against dissidents and radicals, with a PR department overglorifying the mob-fighting it did. Fascinating story of how he survived multiple presidents and tried to destroy social movements for nearly 50 years.
Peacegal
This is a graphic-novel treatment of the life of FBI director, Commie-hunter, and all around nutjob J. Edgar Hoover. The author resists the temptation to criticize his subject and presents the facts straightforwardly, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. Although, the facts alone are pretty damning.

I learned quite a bit of new information about the subject, as well as about the FBI's spying on citizens during the Cold war era.
Jacqueline
Another quick interesting read from Rick Geary that suffers from some of the same flaws as other books of his that I have read. Too much information crammed in per page, mixed with and interesting life. Geary does manage to hit all the points of Hoover's life without glossing over the more unsavory parts.

Boys looking for a fantastic real life action hero may enjoy this and be drawn to some of Geary's crim related graphic novels.
Karla
Jul 22, 2008 Karla rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who think they don't enjoy history.
Once again, Rick Geary has presented accurate historical information in an engaging and attractive graphic novel format. Geary covers how Hoover shaped the FBI from an ineffective office that merely provided salaries for political appointees to an organization that led the country in crime detection techniques. Sadly, readers will also learn that the FBI's former policy of not sharing information was grounded in Hoover's grudges.
Donna
Mar 27, 2008 Donna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who's curious about the FBI
Rick Geary's cleanly drawn illustrations are easy to follow, and he doesn't gloss over any of the less savory aspects of Hoover's life & career - including the rumor that he liked to wear a dress. At just over 100 pages, it packs in a lot of detail (including why the FBI & CIA don't cooperate) without becoming boring. A list of further reading is included at the end for people who want to know more, but my curiousity was satisfied.
Stephen
This was one of the lesser Geary works. It lacked that special smart-ass visual flair that you expect from one of his wacky 1-pagers, needing one of those special illustrations with a silly country bumpkin expression on one of the people he draws.

The story almost seemed like it was intended for the tween market or destined to fine a home on a library shelf and nowhere else.

Rory
The art is very straight-forward and seems based on photographs more often than not. The text seems straight out of Wikipedia...though maybe even more dry. There's very, very little scandal or depth or juice here. Still, Hoover was a fascinating man and incredible force of government change--so, if you're only going to learn about him from a boring-ass graphic novel, you might as well.
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A brief biography of J Edgar Hoover in graphic novel form. Its competently illustrated although the text is uncritical and uninspired. I was hoping for something engaging and interesting about a significant character in U.S. history and politics. Instead it mostly provided bite sized facts and didn't explore the implications or consequences of Hoover's actions.
Jessica
An interesting overview of J. Edgar Hoover's life, from humble middle class beginnings to his evolution into one of the most powerful men in America. A supposed public servant, who managed to maintain power through 8 presidencies, he is at the same time a very enigmatic man. This graphic biography, like all of the author's work is excellent.
Maryalice
Once again, Geary delivers an information-packed graphic. Anyone interested in US history or the history of US law enforcement agencies will enjoy this one. This book spans Hoover's entire career, yet one won't lose interest. Geary's gift is in his attention to detailed research and pacing.
Kathleen
A very good, unbiased biography of a controversial character. The medium could have been utilized more fully, but frankly the fact that it was utilized at all for such a work pleases me to no end.

I recommend it highly to anyone interested in Hoover, the FBI, or nonfiction comics.
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RICK GEARY was born in 1946 in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Wichita,
Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where his first cartoons were published in the University Daily Kansan. He worked as staff artist for two weekly papers in Wichita before moving to San Diego in 1975.

He began work in comics in 1977 and was for thirteen years a contributor to the Funny Pages of
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More about Rick Geary...
The Borden Tragedy: A Memoir of the Infamous Double Murder at Fall River, Mass., 1892 (A Treasury of Victorian Murder) The Saga of the Bloody Benders The Beast of Chicago: An Account of the Life and Crimes of Herman W. Mudgett, Known to the World As H.H. Holmes Jack the Ripper: A Journal of the Whitechapel Murders 1888-1889 The Lindbergh Child (A Treasury of XXth Century Murder)

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