A former FBI agent tells of her traumatic experiences while working for the bureau.
Debut author Van Driel joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1983 with a mixture of excitement and awe, driven by a sense of adventure and patriotic ardor. However, she says that she encountered rampant unprofessionalism, unabashed misogyny, and an unsettling lack of moral gravity at the training academy in Quantico, Virginia. She writes that her peers warned her that she should never be alone with the academy director; according to them, he was a well-known predator of female trainees. On her graduation day, Van Driel says, she was sexually assaulted by one of her firearms instructors. She describes her first training agent as a “swaggering misogynist” who recommended that she quit and find a husband; her male colleagues, she says, repeatedly propositioned her and sexually assaulted her, confident that they would never face departmental discipline. At one point, the author remembers that her Russian language instructor offered to heal a blemish on her face with his semen. Van Driel offers a scathing critique of the bureau that effectively portrays an atmosphere of lethargic shiftlessness, with agents routinely coming and going as they pleased, shirking their duties, falsifying work records, and inflating expense reports. While serving in the New York office, Van Driel’s supervisor was Robert Hanssen, who later became infamous for traitorous behavior. She chillingly relates why she finally resigned: “I had a growing feeling that any danger that would befall me, particularly at the hands of my fellow agents, would never be addressed appropriately. For the first time, I didn’t feel safe.” The author’s moral condemnation of amateurish incompetence is powerful, as is her account of what she describes as the FBI’s entrenched sexism. Van Driel’s prose is full of emotion at times, but it mostly maintains a tone of cool, analytical objectivity, making her indictments all the more persuasive. Indeed, this is a rare exposé in that there’s no shortage of bombshell revelations but not a hint of sensationalism.
A fearless takedown of a major American institution.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)