Clif's Reviews > J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets

J. Edgar Hoover by Curt Gentry
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's review
Dec 30, 2009

really liked it
Read in December, 2009

We live in an age of cynicism born of realism. It got its start some time ago due to the revelations made about American history up to the end of the Vietnam war.

Surely eligible for the top spot in the gallery of rogues that rose to power is J. Edgar Hoover, a man who deliberately used his position to further his own goals and consolidate his personal power, only incidentally impacting the real criminal activity that he was supposed to pursue. He built an empire of fear - not of the law, but of his knowledge of the personal lives of others, built with the effort of a huge bureaucracy that operated solely at his command.

Sadly, there are no good guys in this story. Each of the Presidents that served during Hoover's reign fell under his power not because he had any authority over them but because the seductive appeal of the illegal services he could provide were irresistible.

The issue is stark: we put people in jail for minor infractions of the law such as possession of a tiny amount of drugs even as the top law enforcement people were running wild abusing the rights we all should enjoy under our constitution.

I saw a bumper sticker that said "I love my country but I fear my government". The owner of that car might well have read this book. There is reason to worry and that's the greatest value in Gentry's work, it makes you properly suspicious of authority.

The most odious account was Richard Nixon's eulogy for Hoover. No greater duplicity could have been uttered. It's been said the great benefit of democracy is the power to remove from office. Unfortunately, the information needed to make such a decision usually isn't available until long after an abuser has retired.

My only regret about reading this book is that I read the 1999 edition instead of the latest. Undoubtedly, more information is revealed in the newer edition.

Though this book is over 700 pages long, there isn't a single page of dull reading. One has to be awed at the skill with which Hoover ran his empire. I would recommend it to every American. It is a horror story.


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