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The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  282 Ratings  ·  25 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)
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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.
Ebonique Ellis
good book to read after comey. middle of the book was a bunch of smut that seemed slightly respectable because it was supposedly historically accurate, but in the end, i thought the book was a good read to understand the machinations of individuals who influence government agencies.
Jul 02, 2008 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.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Extremely biased. The author documented the history like a gossip column writer for a woman’s magazine. It’s not a piece of scholarly historian work. It isn’t even up to the standard of solid objective documentary work.

Don’t mistake it as either. Read it for fun and with an open & critical mind. In this age of fictionized non fiction, it is still worth of a read. It’s biased, gossipy, but it still feels like nonfiction. A great accomplishment when journalism writing is all about plot &
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
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 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Given current events, this history of the FBI as an organization and its historical relationship with the presidency and Justice Department is particularly timely. While everyone knows of J Edgar Hoover and his excessive paranoia, I didn't know of subsequent directors, especially the ones who were fine administrators and set up structures and policies which have made the Bureau reliable and justice-oriented.

The book isn't for the squeamish, especially chapters on profiling and serial killers, a
Oct 09, 2008 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
Feb 17, 2010 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
Elizabeth Sulzby
Sep 18, 2011 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.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If all this is accurate and it appears to be, our country is in sad shape when it comes to trusting the FBI. It is disconcerting. Freeh should have been prosecuted for his mismanagement. It is scary how people that are in charge of protecting the public are so inept. Read this book for an eye opening account of corruption in our "protective service ". Hold on to your hats it's going to get a lot worse in the next four years.
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.
Nov 08, 2011 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 19, 2010 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.
Katherine Clark
Aug 05, 2011 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.
Michael Whitt
Mar 30, 2010 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.
Kory Klimoski
May 20, 2014 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!
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jun 12, 2009 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.
Apr 09, 2016 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
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, history
A bit disjointed, so hard to really become immersed in it.
Mar 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: past-reads
Read in 2005
Toph White
Sep 03, 2013 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.
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