Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI” as Want to Read:
The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  222 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
No institution is as critically important to America's security. No American institution is as controversial. And, after the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court, no institution is as powerful. Yet until now, no book has presented the full story of the FBI from its beginnings in 1908 to the present...

The Bureau
The Secret History of the FBI

Based on exclusive intervi
Paperback, 576 pages
Published July 13th 2003 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published May 17th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Bureau, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Bureau

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 513)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Patrick Farrell
This book was about a mile wide and an inch deep; it covered a wide breadth of topics, but didn't cover any of them in any great detail. It also veered off on tangents and into very ancillary topics. The book wasn't bad per se, but I was hoping for better.
This book was a:
3 for interest, historical relevance and thorough reporting
2 for writing style/clarity

Really interesting stuff, and you can tell Kessler was well-placed as a journalist to get access to all kinds of documents and interviews other writers may not have. While I wouldn't say this history was unbiased (Kessler had an annoying tendency to editorialize and repeat his opinions on the aspects of the FBI or directors he especially liked or disliked), it did present a picture that was neit
Jul 02, 2008 Curtis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously very anti-Louis Freeh. In fact by the end that seemed like the entire point of the book. Still good reading for someone who is interested in the FBI, though.
Pretty good. The history of the creation of the Bureau and its early history are especially interesting. Other books such as Puppet Master by Richard Heck have provided a more detailed history, but Kessler does a decent job of showing how Hoover's ability to manipulate the media/public perception of the Bureau and create the image not only with the public but Congress of the Bureau being the premier law enforcement agency. This is impressive considering early on, agents could only enforce a hand ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Blake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in law enforcement or intelligence
"The Bureau" is an excellent and well researched book that explores the history, culture, and people of the FBI. While it is dated by a few, and very eventful, years it remains the best comprehensive primer on the FBI. This book is even handed and bolstered by unprecedented access to secretive organizations. "The Bureau" and "The FBI", also by Mr. Kessler, are similar, but "The Bureau" is much better written, more up to date, and includes a more in depth and interesting look at the FBI under the ...more
Gil Burket
The dark side of the FBI. Mr. Kessler has a point of view that is quite critical of the organization.

As for history, it appears to omit as much as is included.

However, as noted, it is a good starting point for someone not familiar with the history, accomplishments and shortcomings of the organization.
Kory Klimoski
May 20, 2014 Kory Klimoski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good consolidated history. The author went from start to finish detailing not only major historical events, but also detailed history of the Directors. He spent almost half the book on Hoover which was fascinating. Another great read!
Sep 09, 2010 Cayr rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a slogger for me. Took me months to read (when I normally finish a book in a week). Not my typical fare. Parts of it were very interesting (ie: the history of the formation of the FBI and its direction under Hoover, and the final chapters, re: 9/11) Parts of it I had to force myself to read (ie: most of the information about director Freeh, which seemed to be the author's main focus: how the bureau suffered under his direction. Those parts read like a lot of gossip mongering.) Was ...more
Apr 16, 2016 Bobbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great reading of the history of the FBI, but as anyone knows, a history of the FBI is mostly a biography of J. Edgar Hoover
Elizabeth Sulzby
Sep 18, 2011 Elizabeth Sulzby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: novices and/or people who watch Boardwalk Empire
Shelves: history-politics
i had read accounts of how the CIA and military were learning to share tools for intelligence, esp. Human intelligence (Humint.) before I read Fair Game by Valerie Pflame, the NOC that Cheney and his crew outed. That made the shift between Patraeus and Gates make sense.

This book gives a similar history and account of FBI changes over time and funding. I was puzzled by some of parts of topics he left out, then I saw how many books he had written and that he is coming from a neocon point of view.
Nov 08, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A well written, fascinating book, I was amazed at the history of the F.B.I., of some of its current practices, and the courage of those who are F.B.I. agents. The author shows that foibles and misdeeds of past F.B.I. directors, the strengths of the current F.B.I. director, and the benefits and blessings that those who work in the agency provide for United States citizens.
Sean Gannon
Nov 23, 2010 Sean Gannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the Hoover years to current FBI. I'm breazing through this book like no other. Detailed info on many infamous blunders like the handling of Waco. Early years FBI where they couldn't carry firearms up to the modern FBI with modern approaches to criminology and inside the mind of many of the most ruthless killers in America.
Michael Whitt
Mar 30, 2010 Michael Whitt is currently reading it
I still like a few chapters reading The Bureau but the book has been a great read. I highly recommend it to anyone that would like to learn more about the FBI. Covering J. Edgar Hoover, Watergate, spy cases, Waco, Ruby Ridge and so many other things. I highly recommend the book.
Katherine Clark
Sep 28, 2011 Katherine Clark is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I just started reading this book (after hearing the author interviewed on "Morning Edition") and I love it!!!! Will probably finish this one relatively quickly. Of course, I'm reading it for my second Spies class hopefully being taught in the spring.
Jun 12, 2009 Josephine is currently reading it
The history of the FBI is very interesting. Most Americans don't realize how the FBI has shaped our government. So far it's proving to be an interesting read.
Toph White
Sep 03, 2013 Toph White rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kessler is probably the source to get a good run down. His book on the CIA is great too.
Oct 04, 2011 Paul rated it liked it
Long, not terribly interesting. Some good background, but overall, not great.
Mar 28, 2011 Deb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, history
A bit disjointed, so hard to really become immersed in it.
Neal Dalton
Neal Dalton marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2016
Georgia marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2016
Matthew marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2016
Casey Trowbridge
Casey Trowbridge marked it as to-read
Jul 09, 2016
Jason marked it as to-read
Jul 09, 2016
dave rated it liked it
Jul 07, 2016
Jun 30, 2016
Kate is currently reading it
Jul 09, 2016
Christine marked it as to-read
Jun 15, 2016
Alex rated it liked it
Jun 27, 2016
Sheryl marked it as to-read
Jun 12, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • 1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI--the Untold Story
  • Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games
  • Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools & Operations That Helped Win the Cold War
  • The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage
  • Mi6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service
  • The President's House: 1800 to the Present The Secrets and History of the World's Most Famous Home
  • The Wizards Of Langley: Inside The Cia's Directorate Of Science And Technology
  • The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB
  • The Secret History of the CIA
  • Understanding Terror Networks
  • The Bureau and the Mole: The Unmasking of Robert Philip Hanssen, the Most Dangerous Double Agent in FBI History
  • Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer: The True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames
  • The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms & the CIA
  • Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War
  • The Wizards of Armageddon
  • In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story
  • The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA
  • At All Costs: How a Crippled Ship and Two American Merchant Mariners Turned the Tide of World War II

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »