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Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover
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Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  594 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
A ground-breaking, myth-shattering expose reveals the dark secrets of J. Edgar Hoover. At last, readers will learn of the late FBI chief's menacing abuse of power and public trust--from his closet homosexuality to his manipulation by the Mafia to his subversion of the Warren Commission's probe into the assassination of JFK. An 8-week NYT bestseller from the author of Consp ...more
Paperback, 579 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by Pocket Books (first published 1993)
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Reading "Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover" was an edifying, revelatory, and startling experience. I place special emphasis on "STARTLING", because though I had some prior knowledge of Hoover's abuses of power and misdeeds as FBI Director, it was not until reading this book that the full magnitude of them became all too clear.

Summers --- who carried out more than a decade of extensive and voluminous research on Hoover's life and career and conducted hundreds of inter
Pete daPixie
Another great read from investigative journalist Anthony Summers. Having recently enjoyed his 'The 11th Day' dig into the forces behind the 9/11 attack, I didn't hesitate to pick this one off the shelf. 'Official and Confidential:The Secret Life of J.Edgar Hoover', originally released in 1993, has been published in this second edition in 2011.
For those readers old enough to have lived during the times of Hoover's tenure as Director of the F.B.I., or who can remember the t.v. series with Efrem Zi
Nov 12, 2011 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
"J. Edgar Hoover was like a sewer that collected dirt. I now believe he was the worst public servant in our history." - Former Acting Attorney General Laurence Silberman, the first person to peruse Hoover's secret files after his death.

After seeing the movie "J. Edgar" I decided I wanted to know more about Hoover. This book had been sitting on my book shelf since 1993 and I thought it was time I finally read it.

Hoover was a force to be reckoned with, a man who shaped history during his almost 50
May 23, 2011 Marylou rated it really liked it
The information in this book is so damaging to our public officials why aren't they in jail! How do our elected politicians continue to escape getting caught for all the unlawful things they do. This book ends stating that Nixon probably in the end had Hoover poisoned because he, Nixon, could never get up the nerve to fire him. Scary, scary Because the Mafia knew that Hoover was a homosexual and a transvestite, he left them alone ... in fact, stayed in their hotel. He accepted gifts from oilmen; ...more
Jan 14, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it
J. Edgar Hoover was a CROOK! The more I read this book the more disgusted I became with Hoover. By the end you can't believe that he got away with all that he did. His abuse of power is enough to turn your stomach. Hoover was director of the FBI for 50 years, a span that went through every major event you can imagine from the end of WWI to the threshold of Watergate and he had his dirty hand in just about all of it. Presidents were scared of him, he terrorized the Kennedy's and MLK, refused to a ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 26, 2012 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hoover fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
I grew up with the usual Hoover-mandated FBI propaganda in films and books but began to become disenchanted with the official investigation of the murder of President Kennedy. Then, in the later sixties, the FBI and its director became anathema as their illegal subversion and prosecution of the civil rights and antiwar movements began to be disclosed. It was therefore an embarrassment when, upon Hoover's death, the FBI headquarters was named after him.

This biography may have been the first to ti
Jane Walker
Aug 21, 2015 Jane Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
So Hoover was a monster who corrupted US politics for decades. Like most British readers, I knew almost nothing about him, but Summers' book is a riveting account of his ghastly reign.
Jan 27, 2015 Monique rated it liked it
I just read the biography of J.Edgar Hoover. The man would have been a perfect candidate as the head of the Gestapo: extreme right political views, no big picture, paranoid, into blackmail on a grand scale, controlling, meting out punishment to anyone who dared contradict him, accepting bribes and rewards from everyone, including doing ilegal things and, seeking the credit and limelight for everything.

A truly unpleasant man who managed to stay in his job because he had so much dirt on everyone.
Feb 28, 2014 Medhya rated it liked it
Shelves: own
The book was well written and the information was well researched for the most part.

However, I felt at some points that the writer just seemed desperate to get evidence against Hoover than he took anything (maybe it is because somewhere inside me there is a lawyer hiding) but the evidence he threw sometimes felt like conjectures and speculations: your usual 'he said' 'she said'. Which may not be alright for fiction or newspapers but for a book on which a man's reputation was in line, some form o
Jul 11, 2016 Mitchell rated it really liked it
This was a solid read and well researched. Mr. Summers goes after Hoover like a pitbull in many areas of the text. Really, he doesn't have anything good to say about him. I don't think this could stand as a true comprehensive biography for that fact, but it does make for fun reading.

Mr. Summers does introduce some tired and sad conspiracy theories to spice up the text and sales, so I would recommend checking major incidents independently of the text. All in all, a well researched and presented
Oct 21, 2012 Maggy rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I consider myself fairly well-read, but I found the story in this book to be astonishing. This was apparently one of the major sources for Clint Eastwood's movie J. Edgar, and it was really interesting to see what different takes Summers and Eastwood brought from the same facts. Eastwood was quite sympathetic to his subject, whereas Summers really tears him apart. The book is well-reasoned, carefully sourced, and well-written. My only complaint is that there's a large swath in the middle of the ...more
Michele bookloverforever
Jun 09, 2012 Michele bookloverforever rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
complicated life of a very complicated and conflicted human being in need of therapy. megalomania, narcissistic, ocd and other mental health problems.
We are fed so much by media as intrigue, both as fictional television serials and as breaking news reports that we fail to recognize how much is really just gossip. The fascinating thing about reading this expose of J Edgar Hoover so many years after its first publication, is that these processes of manipulation and mayhem still go in so many peoples’ lives.
Much of the territory of storytelling about other people rests in the interpretations so many others give to what they hear. It is not so mu
Tom Schulte
Nov 10, 2011 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tom by: find books by title / author / isbn
Shelves: history
In reading this, I was reminded of the Warren Commission Report. Of course, this takes the approach of J. Edgar helping cover up a Trafficante-Marcello mob hit on JFK with possible CIA/ex-CIA collusion. The book also fuels Hoover-backed conspiracies into the deaths of Robert Kennedy, MLK, and more. Even if it was Wallace in the sniper nest and was all LBJ, Hoover preferred LBJ to any Kennedy and the whole truth may never be widely and convincingly known due to Hoover's sabotage of the Warren Com ...more
Deni Finch-frederick
Thought-provoking history or quasi-history. Repetetive.
Sep 01, 2015 Brittany rated it liked it
After finishing up this biography, I feel conflicted. I don't consider Hoover J Edgar Hoover to be a superb man in any sense but I don't quite think he deserves to be subjected in this matter. Summer's paints a gaudy picture of the late FBI director. One that feels tabloid-ish and in poor taste, especially after reading. While I am not supporter of J Edgar's, he did turn the FBI into a modern organization. I feel that moderation is key when reading this book; there is truth woven into the outlan ...more
Paul Martin
Anthony Summers must have taken a huge and immense gamble writing this book. The boss of the famed FBI even in his grave still churns the tummies of any American President till this date.

For those of you like me that are often misled to believe the illusion that some great organisations are squeaky clean and are all goodie goodie this book nicely rips that "Hollywood" created facade apart.

His ties to the mob, hunger for power, blackmail and duplicity this book highlights are phenomenal.

A diffic
Daniel Hulmes
Feb 04, 2012 Daniel Hulmes rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
As you would expect from a book with the subtitle 'Official & Confidential,' I learnt much whilst reading this book that I had no idea about going in, most of it not very favorable to American politics throughout the 20th century. It is clearly an extensively researched piece of work and, despite its sheer volume, never bogs you down with an excess of names or information.

I must admit, there were a few areas where I was not completely convinced, specifically those involving a transvestite s
Paul Kearney
summers paints hoover as a vain racist homosexual psychopath which would be hard to believe if it wasn't for the stereotypical narcissistic mind that strives for power portrayed combined with the hoover like attention to detail which makes this book a truly frightening read.however its this detail which is the books only negative. the book often strays from chronology to build his case something I am sure the author wouldn't have felt the need to do if he wasn't dealing with a man as celebrated ...more
Few books have made me seethe with anger the way this book did. Hoover was a self-loathing fear mongering despot who does not deserve to have his name on the building which contains an organization much finer than he ever created. What he does deserve is an annual observance of the day he died, kicked off with a reading of all the names of his victims and capped off with a parade of good, law-abiding citizens filing past his grave, each pausing to urinate upon him. This is the legacy he has earn ...more
Dec 15, 2007 Arnold rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
OH Yeah. J Edgar Hoover, the feared and dangerous Head of America's most powerful intelligence agency, who scared Presidents because of secrets the agency held, also spent much of his time hiding his own scarlet secrets. He liked to don full drag and makeup at night and go out picking up younger men.

Read, laugh outrageously aloud and then ponder the consequences of what we rarely ever find out about the people who rule our lives and the world in which we live.

Frightening, true and a definitive
Angel Parrish
This is, I believe, the most biased book I've ever read. While it may be based on fact, while I believe Hoover might have been a first-class manipulator and blackmailer, this information was presented with such prejudice I couldn't read more than a few pages at a time. The info was poorly organized. It was like a guy sitting in a living room gossiping about his high school nemesis.

I finally gave up.
Jun 26, 2015 LINCCReviews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jul 08, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
This is like reading about a nightmare, except it's one I've lived through. I read Summer's biography of Richard Nixon, "The Arrogance of Power", some years ago and think this is just as good. Part of me, however, hopes that the author is really just a clever sensationalist and that his footnotes are fictitious. Unfortunately, I've read some of his sources, however, so the last glimmer of hope fades...
Oct 09, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
Fascinating read. If only an ounce of this book is true, J. Edgar Hoover was a nutter. Spending time with gangsters and yet denying that gangsters exist is pretty crazy. The guy had an ego the size of the earth but still, so insecure. Too bad he couldn't have been born today -- being gay is a better proposition now than it was in the 1920s and 30s (and later, of course). He might not have been so, well, nuts. Good book, I thought.
May 01, 2013 lc rated it it was ok
J.Ed.Hoover was a bigoted, closeted, & nasty man involved in everything but what the F.B.I. was charged to do. That one individual could hold so much power over so many Presidents & high ranking officials is frightening. Checks & Balances do not apply to Federal agencies but perhaps they should. The Author is at times redundant in information and the book repeats itself, but it serves to open more question for readers - especially regarding JFK's killing and that of MLK as well.
Fernanda Santos
Feb 06, 2015 Fernanda Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me recuerda al cizañero de Asterix pero mucho mas dañino,un hombre que la gente creía que estaba combatiendo el crimen y lo que estaba era espiando la vida de mucha gente en cargos relevantes para poder chantajearla y mantenerse en el poder y lo triste del asunto es que lo consiguió,parece que todos tenían rabo de paja y mucho miedo a quemarse.
Jul 30, 2007 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This really threw me back into a different era. I sincerely hope that politics doesn't currently operate by the principles that guided Hoover and his political allies. While most appreciated by someone who grew up during the Hoover era, still worth a read for anyone interested in seedy politics and American Gestapo known as the FBI under Hoover.
Jan 29, 2014 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a corrupt insecure megalomaniac! While he had political favorites, it's fascinating how he wormed his way into the inner circle of so many presidents. Also, how many presidents utilized his power and snooping abilities for political gain. Wow. Fascinating read and we will never know really how much dirt he had hidden in his secret files.
Mar 12, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it
Both a scary and a heartening book. Scary in the sense of how one man could have consolidated so much power, influence so many other powerful people and cause harm to so many. On the other hand if our country could survive the malevolent meddling of such psychopath then it does give me hope for the future. If you enjoyed the Eastwood movie then you will enjoy this book.
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Anthony Summers is the bestselling author of eight nonfiction books. His investigative books include Not in Your Lifetime, the critically acclaimed book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy; Official & Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover; and most recently The Eleventh Day, on the 9/11 attacks—a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History.
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“I cannot believe we want our great nation to become a land where our personal privacy and our personal freedom are jeopardized by the abuse of power by a police official who seems to believe he is a law unto himself ~ George McGovern” 4 likes
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