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on January 21, 2008
Anthony Summers presents J. Edgar Hoover as a man who insisted his agents lead a monastic life style while he enjoyed good whisky, gambling, and free vacations. He vilified homosexuals while himself involved with a male partner and he was capable of cross-dressing at private parties. He portrayed himself as the bulwark against crime yet coddled the Mafia and resisted any attempt at stopping their illegal activities. Ranted against communism but diverted resources to concentrate on building files on U.S. Congressmen and politicians without effectively stopping the Soviet intelligence attack throughout the cold war.

It is a frightening story of political maneuvering, blackmailing and excesses solely to maintain power. Summer's book includes extensive notes and bibliography. Written in 1993 it does not deal with the great failures that have been revealed in the past fifteen years such as the Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames cases. It does imply that Hoover's emphasis of show and power could have resulted in the FBI functioning to fit his image and maintain his power base at the expense of protecting American Security.
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on October 17, 2007
A truly interesting book. I have to say that it changed my view on the legendary man, and opens my eyes to how power corrupts. It's a bit long, but I'd recommend this to anyone interested in American politics in the 20th century.
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on November 24, 1999
Once I had begun to read this book, it took everything I had to put it down in order to get some sleep and do my schoolwork. The power that Hoover possessed and how he fed on the fears of government officials who tried to kick him out, is absolutly fantastic to read about. To learn how corrupt the man who was considered by many to be an American hero was proved to be among the many elements of this book that keeps you wanting to read it. I had no idea that Hoover was a closet transvestite until I read this book, but now I enjoy reading this book, both for pleasure and research. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read some interesting stuff!
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on October 7, 1999
"Official And Confidential" is a great work that serves as a document about the abuses of power due to one man's private perversions. Summers writes an incredibly powerful book that explores many, many subjects. Never did I think one man could have so much control, I was proven wrong by this great work. J.Edgar Hoover was a man with mental problems that were secret perversions, he used it to his use. This book is like watching a great movie. It has all the elements of a great dramatic thriller. We explore the shadowy truths behind the assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Even the death of John Dillinger is questioned here. "Official & Confidential" can also serve as a study of the perversions of power and government. The myth of the conservative 50s and 60s is shattered here. There was more going on behind the curtain of power than we knew. This is a masterpiece.
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on August 17, 2013
A fascinating expose of Hoover's personal and professional life, with lots of tantalizing anecdotes like this one:

Billy Byars Sr., Humble Oil millionaire from Tyler, Texas, was very close to Hoover. Phone logs show that Hoover called only three people the afternoon President Kennedy was shot: Robert Kennedy, the head of the Secret Service, and Byars. Byars Sr., is dead. His son, Billy Jr., told Summers in 1988 how close his father was to Hoover. Hoover would talk constantly about his bad relations with the Kennedys. He says he once asked him about the assassination. "I asked him, 'Do you think Lee Harvey Oswald did it?' And he stopped and he looked at me for quite a long time. Then he said, 'If I told you what I really know, it would be very dangerous to this country. Our whole political system could be disrupted.' That's all he said, and I could see he wasn't about to say any more."

Being a supporter of gay rights, Hoover's personal life would normally be of no interest to me. But his public hypocrisy and persecution of anyone who didn't fit the Boy Scout ideal he had in his head (and his obvious inability to live up to that ideal) makes for a fascinating psycho-history, and helps us to understand many of his actions as FBI Director.

This book is also a warning to Americans to stop focusing so much time and energy on elected partisan officials, and to more closely examine the vast unelected government that continues no matter which party is in power.
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on March 14, 2012
Mesmerizing. The bio sets out the life of the man - J Edgar Hoover - who ruled America under the auspices of the FBI from the 1930s until his death - in office - in the early 1970s, on the eve of Watergate. Hoover was the ultimate JR (Dallas) who through collecting dirt on White House incumbents was able to wield power way beyond that of the presidency of the day. Due to the Mafia having evidence of Hoover's sexual inclinations he had an "understanding" with them and allowed them to run their businesses with impunity. Throughout his decades of heading the FBI he was viewed as untouchable ... a state of affairs that seems almost surreal especially considering that his relationship with his assistant, Clyde Tolson, was obviously homosexual. The butchiest institution in the world was run by two queens - truly the weirdest Riley's Believe it or not ever !
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on December 7, 2011
This book is must read for all those who are interested in the theory of a "shadow government" in America. It also ties in well with many of the books written about the JFK administration and political assassination. Nevertheless the book seems to be well researched with lots of notes in the back section. It is also a good companion book to another Anthony Summers book, "Not in Your Lifetime".
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on March 3, 2015
Couldn't get through this. Between the author referring to his subject as "Edgar" (a big no-no for biographers, according to my high school history teacher) and the salacious accusations that ooze from every page (Bobby Kennedy was involved in the murder of Marilyn Monroe?), I couldn't take it seriously. When you find yourself wondering after every sentence whether that particular fact is true, it's time to find a new nonfiction book. It's too bad, because Hoover was an exceptionally powerful and controversial figure, and it would be interesting to know more about his life. Some day I'll try to track down a better biography.
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on February 2, 2015
This story was fairly long and detailed. It chronicles his life and, if the author is to be believed, Hoover was just as, if not more powerful than, the president.

Hoover wielded his power to his own benefit, making enemies high and low. Owing to his control of things, Pearl Harbor, it is hinted at, could have been prevented based on knowledge Hoover had from a Soviet spy.

More pictures other than documents would have been appreciated and have helped not only make the book go faster but tie things together.
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on December 17, 2014
The book does not follow a traditional timeline of events but is organized based on presidential terms of office which can make it hard to follow and somewhat confusing when different events overlap in various parts of the book. It also reads a little like a gossip column with all the "he said, she said" which detracts from the factual aspect of what is being relayed to the reader. It was very interesting to read and was a good counterpoint to the glossy image that is still used to portray JEH to this day.
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