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Enemies: A History of the FBI Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; 1st Edition edition (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846143268
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846143267
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 596,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Truly impressive ... [Enemies] could have been put together only by a journalist of Weiner's stature (Keith Lowe Sunday Telegraph )

A history that moves at the pace of a James Ellroy novel. But Weiner's truth is wilder even than Ellroy's fiction. Weiner sets the record straight on the FBI's first 100 years using only the Bureau's documents and oral testimony, most of which has never been seen (David Blackburn Spectator )

An outstanding piece of work, even-handed, exhaustively researched, smoothly written and thematically timely ... This is certainly the most complete book we are likely to see about the F.B.I.'s intelligence-gathering operations, from Emma Goldman to Osama bin Laden (Bryan Burrough New York Times )

Extensively researched, admirably understated, yet terrifically entertaining (Boston Globe )

Important and disturbing ... Weiner lays bare a record of embarrassing, even stunning failure, in which the bureau's lawlessness was matched only by its incompetence ... [he] has done prodigious research, yet tells this depressing story with all the verve and coherence of a good spy thriller (New York Times Book Review )

A fascinating account of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counterespionage snooping over the past century ... A very good read (Wall Street Journal )

An authoritative and often frightening history of what has been, in effect, America's secret police ... A sober, monumental and unflinchingly critical account of a problematic institution (Kirkus Reviews )

An important, judicious account of the tension between national security and civil liberties (Publishers Weekly )

Fascinating ... an important and biting inquiry into an agency that protects Americans in a dangerous world while straining against the limitations we rightly impose upon it (San Francisco Chronicle )

[A] masterpiece ... reads like a thriller, but don't let the heart-pumping prose fool you ... a scholarly tour de force that will be an instant classic for any serious student of American national security (Amy Zegart (Author Of Spying Blind: The Cia, The Fbi And The Origins Of 9/11) )

Fast-paced, fair-minded and fascinating ... turns the long history of the FBI into a story that is as compelling, and important, as today's headlines (Jeffrey Toobin (Author Of The Nine: Inside The Secret World Of The Supreme Court) )

Riveting ... goes so deep into the agency's skullduggery, readers feel they are tapping the phones along with J. Edgar Hoover. This is a book that every American who cares about civil liberties should read (Jane Mayer (Author Of The Dark Side) )

The most comprehensive history of the FBI as an intelligence agency we have ever had ... essential reading for anyone concerned about American civil liberties (Robert Dallek (Author Of John F. Kennedy) )

About the Author

Tim Weiner is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the New York Times, where he has reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and fifteen other nations. He was based for a decade in Washington, DC, where he covered the C.I.A. and the Military - the latter topic being the subject of his Blank Check: The Pentagon's Black Budget. He is the author of the bestselling Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, which won the 2007 National Book Award for Non-Fiction.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Be warned, this is not light reading. It is a detailed account of the history of the FBI. Even so there must be many details omitted for the sake of comparative brevity otherwise we would probably get a further five volumes.
My first thought on starting this book was "paranoia", anyone speaking against the Government, voicing positive opinions about undesirable organizations or attending an un-American political meeting even just out of curiosity branded you as the "enemy".
My second thought was, "what was the point of the American Constitution?" Successive Presidents tore the Constitution to shreds. Gone was the right to free speech, the concept of fair trails and innocence before guilt.
Successive Presidents have condoned the use by the FBI of confinement without trail, torture during interrogation and rendition thus breaking both National and International laws.

This is a book which should be read by every intelligent American as a warning that even innocent people can be caught up in the FBI net with no easy escape route.

The Communist ideals were good but flew in the face of human nature whereas Capitalism thrives because of human nature, greed, do your fellow down if it makes a profit etc
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book takes a broader approach than I expected and the history is more 'pottted' than I had hoped. Having said that, it is an interesting read, charting the rise of the FBI and at its heart, J Edgar Hoover, and it is well written and obviously well researched.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whatever the weaknesses of Western democracy the alternative of communism as perpetrated by the Soviets would have been infinitely worse. As someone growing up during the 1940s and 1950s, in Britain, the Berlin airlift of 1949, the Berlin uprising of 1953 and the Hungarian revolution of 1956 taught me that latter fact.
What I've always understood is that communism is a political theory and what Bolshevik/Soviet Russia may have been threatening, post first world war was Revolution, post-Second World War imperial expansion under the guise of communism. The line between that imperial expansion and political communism is difficult to identify and may depend on one's viewpoint.
This exciting book demonstrates that from the end of the First World War America's political elite was besotted in preventing the Communist political theory taking hold. In doing that USA laws were ignored and the freedom that the country was built on was forgotten is amply demonstrated in this book. I remember being unable to comprehend why some American involved in films like Losey, Foreman,Enfield and Wanamaker were forced to take refuge in England to continue their work or why I had to wait years to see Paul Robeson and why I had to go to concerts to raise money for Pete Seeger in his battle with the US government - now I am better informed.
The sad thing that this book demonstrates time and again that American Presidents failed to control J Edgar Hoover even knowing that power he had had corrupted him.
A major surprise demonstrated here is how inefficient and ineffective the FBI has been in dealing with America's post-Cold War enemies though we are lead to believe that has changed - I certainly hope so.
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Format: Paperback
Concentrating on its role as a political force rather than a law-enforcement agency, Tim Weiner opens the doors on 100 years of FBI history.... and it certainly isn't flattering.

Weiner documents the growth of the FBI from it's inception as the Bureau of Investigation in 1908 to the large and highly staffed body which it forms today. From it's first year in operation successive presidents and attorneys general used the force to spy on the citizens of the United States, hunting communists, fascists, anarchists and those considered simply politically unsound. It broke the law and used it's almost unlimited power to hunt its 'enemies' to the ground. Dominated and guided by the mighty presence of J. Edger Hoover, the biggest issue of the book involves the long term and widespread use of illegal wiretapping by the FBI against anyone it saw fit. This was in spite of repeated demands by the US Supreme Court, not to mention Congress, to cease its practice. By the 1970s, successive presidents since FDR had used the FBI to spy on their political opponents. President Johnson in particular saw communists literally everywhere and he was encouraged in his views by the chief anti-communist himself; Hoover.

Weiner continues with his revelations that the United States was riddled with foreign spies from the 1920s onwards, mainly communists who managed to infiltrate almost every area of the US government by the end of the Second World War. He also touches on the conflict of Watergate and how the FBI was prevented from performing its job by the Nixon administration and the CIA.
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Format: Paperback
Tim Weiner's "History of the FBI" illustrates the false assumptions that drive intelligence service agendas, as well as the dubious methods they use to confront their fictitious adversaries. Tim Weiner describes a world of imaginary enemies, where secret service agents resemble above all else, the inquisitors of 15th century Europe.

The book extensively details the Illegal break-ins, wiretaps and cointelpro harassment activities of the FBI under Edgar J Hoover. Had these files been shredded as intended, much of the controversial aspects of the early history of the FBI might have been lost forever. One would assume that the FBI will in future take care to hide or destroy evidence of its illegal activities more thoroughly.

Whilst the book pursues the early history of the FBI with great authority, the same cannot be claimed for the agencies history of the past 30 years, despite the author's attempts to convey the contrary. The sources simply aren't there. However, what we do know is not encouraging, undercover spies and agent provocateurs, many of whom have criminal backgrounds, are paid ludicrous amounts of money to find and groom potential victims, supplying both the plot and the means and method of its execution. At times a considerable monetary incentive is necessary to encourage the often poverty stricken uneducated individuals to participate. If the victims bite, another terrorist plot is foiled, and the agencies paychecks justified, the belief in a clear and present danger vindicated.

After having described this more recent and disturbing aspect of the FBI's contemporary modus operandi, Tim Weiner is nonetheless able to conclude that, " The chance remained that the principle might prevail, the possibility that in a time of continual danger Americans could be both safe and free."

Tim Weiner should have another read of his book.
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