12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss Hoover, I presume
When this book came out, a lot was made of the sexual side of this man, that Anthony Summers found out Hoover was a cross dresser, a homosexual. Yet the critics missed the main point of the book which is to show just how corrupt this man was, how he thought he was untouchable, his Mafia links, how he held the files on every American who mattered. This guy could crush a...
Published on 18 July 2007 by Mrs. A. Hunt
9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ..mostly rumour, innuendo and hearsay...
This 1993 book by Anthony Summers is devoted to 'accentuating the negative' regarding J. Edgar Hoover. Whilst there is generally nothing wrong with critically examining powerful men and their lives, there is an awful lot wrong with this book.
Unfortunately Summers relies on the most unreliable and biased 'sources' to dish the dirt on the man who headed the FBI...
Published on 14 Mar 2010 by J. P. Ryder
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss Hoover, I presume,
To many Hoover was a public figure to be held in high regard, a true American. Yet we find out he was a racist who spent his life tormented by the thought that he himself came from black blood.
What scared me more than anything about this expose was the fact that this man was allowed free reign to do whatever he pleased under the guise of bieng the head of the FBI. His involvement and the coverage in the book on the deaths of John Dillinger and Marilyn Monroe as well as the death of JFK shocked me.
To anyone interested in recent American history, please read this. It will cast a new light on the macinations of the FBI under this man, it will show just how corrupt the American system can be when in the wrong hands.
The fact he was a cross dressing homosexual was bad enough (although the vision of him in a dress and high heels is a great source of entertainment) but this book goes far deeper.
I never liked Hoover, always thought he looked shifty, this books shows just how shifty he was.
Again Anthony Summers has written a concise thorough investigation into the mind and life of another American public figure of the "do as I say and not as I do" brigade.
A brilliant book which never loses pace in it's writing
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing expose,
The book starts with Hoover's early life, and takes the reader through his schooling and his first jobs with the Justice Department. It also shows that with the connections he made and the decisions of his bosses at the time, he was able to secure himself the job as Director of the Bureau of Investigation, later to be the FBI.
This book is completely engrossing and apart from the fact the author engages his readers through intelligent and fluid narration, the one thing that keeps you reading is the disbelief that a man in his position could have stooped so low to get what he wanted.
His predilection for blackmail was obvious from early on in his career. He was an intelligent individual who realised early on that he could manipulate the most powerful men in the country, through the fear that he had something on them, so believable was the concept that he wiretapped them. His ability to ride roughshod over the civil liberties of his fellow countrymen was absolutely breathtaking. It was not just the fact that he listened to salacious pieces of gossip and sexual tittle-tattle, but the fact that every whisper, suspicion or just malicious rumour was noted and filed for use later on.
His unwillingness to pursue the Mafia, his treatment of fellow homosexuals, his blackmailing of Presidents and politicians, his inability to cooperate with other federal authorities, his attitude to civil liberties, African Americans and any one he considered lesser to himself is astounding. It is shocking that a man with such a narrow-mind and appetite for power could run such a powerful agency for all that time, abusing the rights of others with mindless abandon, even his friends, like the Agent Melvin Purvis, were not exempt from his petty tantrums.
I would heartily recommend this book, it will leave you feeling amazed and shocked but so engrossing is the narrative that you will not be able to put it down. This book is worth every penny, one of my favourite books this year. Anthony Summers has done a fantastic job and I look forward to reading his other works.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expose of FBI Chief's disturbing life,
This review is from: Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (Paperback)Official and Confidential is another addition to Anthony Summers' superb books about the seamy underbelly of United States twentieth century politics. Whereas this Oxford-educated historian's other books have looked in great detail at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the life of President Richard M. Nixon, Official and Confidential exposes the murky life and times of Federal Bureau of Investigation chief J. Edgar Hoover.
What Summers' finds is truly incredible - a racist with possibly black ancestry, a homophobe who was a transvestite homosexual, a man who held the highest judicial office in the land but had a strong relationship with the Mafia, a life of deception and bullying, the ultimate behind-the-scenes King-maker, who used the FBI to build up numerous blackmail files on politicians, especially prospective presidential candidates; further to this, Hoover quite probably played a key role in the murder of Jack Kennedy (or at the very least, turned a blind eye to the events).
Summers' writing, as with all of his books, is clear and illuminating. He depicts a full life and decades of intricate politicking and blackmail, without ever losing the reader in a morass of names and dates. His arguments for Hoover's deep corruption are convincing and his sources are clear. Similar to his biography of Nixon, when reading Official and Confidential, there is a sense of, "He surely can't have been this bad and gotten away with it?" but Summers' makes his case simply by spelling out the unpleasant facts.
For those who enjoy an eye-opening biography, this book is a great read; characters such as Dwight Eisenhower and Bobby Kennedy enter the story, events such as the deaths of John Dillinger and Marilyn Monroe feature and the Mafia, of course, feature significantly. The book also works because of Summers' eye for the little details, such as the FBI agents nervously waiting outside Hoover's office, frantically wiping the sweat from their palms, as Hoover has a loathing of it and such an occurrence could jeopardise an agent's career.
This is another great book from Anthony Summers; once again he has really done his homework better than most. This book reveals a character who had tremendous influence over twentieth century U.S. politics and as such, this book sheds a revealing light on the deep political structure of the U.S. establishment. That the FBI's head office is still named after Hoover must be something of a perverse joke...
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Call Me Edgar?,
The book goes through Hoover's career and makes the point that he did not, contrary to popular belief, found the F.B.I. at all, that he investigated those whose arrest would make good publicity, that he neglected to chase those criminals who were in the background, like the Mafia (whose chiefs had plenty of information about Hoover's own peccadilloes) etc. There are also interesting bits about the Kennedy assassination and about the WW2 spy Popov (see his own book Spy Counter Spy).
I thought the book very good indeed, weakened really only by the very end, where an attempt is made to diagnose Hoover retrospectively via various experts in psychiatric disorders. That weakened the book, not least because the conclusion, typical of psychiatry (?) is that Hoover was a paranoiac, also a sociopath, also a sexual deviant, etc...no real conclusion.
Well worth reading and a salutary lesson in the old tale of how power corrupts, though the author does make the point (not very strongly, though) that the organization Hoover created did and does have strong suits, particularly in the technical aspects of its work. The F.B.I. has had many many successes to place against its failures.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener,
This review is from: Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover (Paperback)I thoroughly enjoyed 'J Edgar Hoover'. I have seen the FBI headquaters building in Washington named after him, and it's amazing to think how someone with his devious record could have reached such dizzy heights in American history. If, like me, you are interested in things American, you will like this.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic piece of investigative journalism.,
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate blackmail,
This review is from: Official and Confidential: Secret Life of J.Edgar Hoover (Paperback)An absolutely brilliant book that blows the lid off the myth of J. Edgar Hoover as a top crimefighter. The book shows how too much power in the hand of one man without scruitiny can corrupt absolutely. I found it fascinating how Hoover could turn information so easily into blackmail of the establishment and how his own corruption was used against him by the Mafia.
I also recommend "Legacy of Ashes" a history of the CIA - another brilliant read.
5.0 out of 5 stars very informative,
This review is from: Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover (Paperback)This book is very informative and helps better understand american politics of the time.
Remarkable research material and journalistic work.
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid and meticulously researched,
This review is from: Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover (Paperback)Readers of Anthony Summers' brilliant and acclaimed 'Goddess' biography of Marilyn Monroe will be unsurprised at the excellent detail and meticulous referencing of this book. It's informative, fascinating and very well written.
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read,
This review is from: Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover (Kindle Edition)A very good book peeling back layer upon layer of the secrecy surrounding a very strange complex and powerful individual. A man who had so much power that even the most powerful politicians were afraid of him.
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Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summers (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)