J. EDGAR HOOVER by Curt Gentry

J. EDGAR HOOVER

The Man and the Secrets
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Based on more than 300 interviews and 100,000 pages of previously classified documents, this enormous, blistering exposÇ seems hellbent on proving that the legendary FBI director had not feet of clay, but cloven hoofs. Gentry, coauthor of Helter-Skelter, depicts a bureaucrat par excellence who over 48 years maintained an empire through secret files that one anonymous politician called ``political cancer.'' Hoover's carefully burnished reputation as the incorruptible defender of the American way of life was largely a fraud, Gentry argues. Much of this book provides additional material on how Hoover sought to undermine his long list of enemies, which included Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, the Kennedys, Emma Goldman, Martin Luther King, Jr., and his most enduring nemesis, OSS head ``Wild Bill'' Donovan (whom Hoover foiled in his ambitions to become attorney-general and CIA director). More important, many revelations here will further tarnish Hoover's reputation, including how the director suppressed information unfavorable to the Bureau during the Warren Commission's investigation of JFK's murder; how he destroyed congressmen and even Supreme Court Associate Justice Abe Fortas; and how he became a ``petty thief'' by misappropriating government funds and concealing royalties from bestselling books, movies, and the TV-series The FBI. Unfortunately, unlike Richard Gid Powers's more balanced and subtle Secrecy and Power (1987), Gentry scarcely acknowledges Hoover's organizational genius or the middle-class milieu that was the source of his political and moral conservatism. A revealing and grimly fascinating political horror tale- -which, however, too frequently caricatures Hoover as a sinister Çminence grise rather than as a 20th-century power broker shaped (or misshaped) by his late-Victorian upbringing. (Seventy-one b&w photographs.)

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1991
ISBN: 0-393-02404-0
Page count: 864pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991




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