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Enemies: A History of the FBI Hardcover – February 14, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1ST edition (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400067480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067480
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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

Tim Weiner's new book, "Enemies: A History of the F.B.I.," is an outstanding piece of work, even-handed, exhaustively researched, smoothly written and thematically timely --  The New York Times

“Pulitzer-Prize–winning author Tim Weiner has written a riveting inside account of the FBI’s secret machinations that goes so deep into the Agency’s skullduggery, readers will 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
Enemies is a research masterpiece. Picking through seventy thousand newly declassified documents and using on-the-record interviews, Weiner reveals startling new truths and debunks nagging old myths about the FBI. Enemies reads like a thriller, but don’t let the heart-pumping prose fool you. Weiner has written a scholarly tour de force that will be an instant classic for any serious student of American national security.”—Amy B. Zegart, Ph.D., Stanford University, author of Spying Blind
“Tim Weiner’s Enemies is the most comprehensive history of the FBI as an intelligence agency we have ever had. Based on extensive research in previously unavailable materials, Weiner gives us a fresh way to think about J. Edgar Hoover, the many presidents he worked with, and the FBI as a national security agency. The book is also a cautionary tale that is essential reading for anyone concerned about American civil liberties.”—Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life

About the Author

Tim Weiner has won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting and writing on secret intelligence and national security. As a correspondent for The New York Times, he covered the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington and terrorism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, and other nations. Enemies is his fourth book. His Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA won the National Book Award and was acclaimed as one of the year’s best books by The New York Times, The Economist, The Washington Post, Time, and many other publications. The Wall Street Journal called Betrayal “the best book ever written on a case of espionage.” He is now working on a history of the American military.

Customer Reviews

This book reads like fiction.
S. M Marson
It is very well written, interesting, informative, and actually fun to read - didn't feel dry to me.
Tim Weiner's history of the FBI follows his solid book on the history of the CIA.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Wulfstan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If any of you read & loved Pulitzer Prize winner Tim Weiner's National Book award winning book, "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA", then you are in for a another fascinating and in depth treatise, this time on the FBI.

Weiner calls the FBI "America's Secret Police" . We often think that the FBI's main job is crime fighting but it's actually more anti-terrorism and counter-intelligence. Weiner has been able, again, to base a definitive book upon recently declassified documents, thus there is a lot here which may be news even to FBI buffs.

One of the things I didn't know about (and is revealed here) is that the FBI actually engaged in overseas intelligence work, such as when J. Edgar installed a FBI informant as the President of the Dominican Republic!

It's been commonplace to demonize J. Edgar, but here Weiner is careful to note that the Director wasn't "a monster" but instead compares him to "an American Machiavelli" (still hardly a compliment).

It really reads much like a sequel to his earlier book on the CIA, but this time concentrating on how the FBI works in that same arena.

Solid, readable, meticulously researched... and more than a little controversial.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hillman on February 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tim Weiner's excellent treatment of the FBI's 100-year-old history of domestic spying is destined to be the seminal work on the subject.

Not too long ago, Weiner got a call that his 27-year-old Freedom of Information Act request for declassification of J. Edgar Hoover's secret intelligence files had been granted. Three banker's boxes of documents appeared. Together with other recently-declassified files, numerous interviews and other reliable sources, primary and secondary, Weiner crafts (with 60 pages of illuminating endnotes) a riveting and revealing history of the FBI's domestic surveillance.

Weiner recounts the admonitions of Founding Fathers, such as Hamilton and Madison, that a free nation must be ever-vigilant; but, in conducting such vigilance, must not compromise civil liberties. President-by-President, we see a constant tension between the two tenets. The consistent thread, for the first 60 years, is J. Edgar Hoover.

This is not the Hoover of the Clint Eastwood movie. The Hoover Weiner describes as an "American Machiavelli" seems relatively uncomplicated. He always hated Communism. He resisted aiding the civil rights movement (until late, cajoled by LBJ) because he believed the movement was fostered by the Soviet Union and U.S. Communist Party. He had "evidence"--e.g., a close confidant of MLK was a Communist. For Hoover, and many of the Presidents, the end justified the means, unconstitutional as they were. But Weiner points out that even Hoover had his limits. Hoover's refusal to carry out Nixon's directive to spy on Democrats led Nixon to organize "the Plumbers" of Watergate and other disasters.

At the other end of the FBI Director spectrum is Robert Mueller. Weiner recounts how Mueller told G. W.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A. T. Lawrence on February 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Acquaintances ask me whether this is a conservative or a liberal book? It seems like a strange question; I mean I wrote a book about Vietnam that I wrote for everyone; I had no political agenda when I was writing my book. I feel the same with this book. I tell people that Weiner worked as a journalist for the New York Times, but it appears that he is striving to write an honest book, without any hidden agenda. That being said, this is a very readable book; the author writes in a captivating and gripping style -- it's hard to put down. Most of us simply associate the FBI with the life of J. Edgar Hoover, but this is not just another biography of that powerful person, rather this is an insightful history, which begins with the establishment of the Bureau in 1908 under the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and continues up to present times.

It addresses my interest as to the interaction of the FBI with the CIA. I am aware of the fact that the CIA has no legal domestic police authority, and therefore, in regards its narcotics findings, it sends this intel on to the FBI and other law enforcement organizations for action, yet both the FBI and the CIA are involved with counter-terrorism operations. In fact, according to Weiner, the FBI was more successful in countering the KGB than the CIA, and it was the FBI, rather than the CIA, that succeeded in placing "a spy inside the highest councils of the Soviet Union." Hoover considered "intelligence operations as more crucial than any law enforcement work." By the middle of the Eisenhower years the "Intelligence Division was .. the most powerful force within the Bureau, commanding the most money, the most manpower, and the most attention from the director.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Murphy on March 26, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Tim Weiner, author of Enemies: A History of the FBI, is no ordinary historian, and Enemies is no ordinary book. Weiner, a New York Times reporter that has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, graduate of Columbia University's journalism program, is one of America's most gifted authors. In Enemies, he has produced a masterpiece that is thoroughly reflective of his talents.

Weiner, as was also his pattern in his terrific history of the CIA (Legacy of Ashes), builds context by starting way back. How far back? As far back as the first decade of the 20th century, when Teddy Roosevelt was wrestling with the need for effective sources of domestic and foreign intelligence. Weiner's thorough, but not plodding, reporting uncovers parts of American history that many of us have forgotten, or never knew, such as the many hundreds of episodes of domestic terrorism that occurred during the 20th century, first by the anarchists, later by a variety of groups during the Vietnam War, up to and including the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing. His meticulous approach spotlights the triple threats that presidents from Woodrow Wilson through Barack Obama have asked the assistance of the FBI to deal with: terror from within, national security in time of war (including the Cold War), and foreign-based attempts at terror on U.S. soil, U.S. military bases, and U.S. embassies.

Necessarily, Enemies is also the story of J. Edgar Hoover, who by his mid-20's was the assistant director of the intelligence service that was to become the FBI, and who before he was 30, was appointed to the directorship. He remained director of the FB I until his death at age 77 (allowed to stay on well past the mandatory federal employee retirement age of 70 by presidential waiver).
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More About the Author

From the Random House Speakers Bureau profile:

Tim Weiner has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his writing on vital issues of American national security. As a correspondent for The New York Times, he covered the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon in Washington, and reported on war and terrorism from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, and many other nations over the course of 15 years.

His new book, Enemies: A History of the FBI, has been acclaimed as "fascinating" by The Wall Street Journal. Legacy of Ashes, his chronicle of the CIA, was a bestseller across the United States and around the world. His fields of expertise include espionage, foreign affairs, intelligence, and Presidential power politics. He has lectured at the CIA, universities, political think tanks, and at Presidential libraries.

Tim Weiner's trademark use of intelligence research and unique sources compose compelling narratives that are as riveting as they are important to understanding the world we live in. Weiner is currently at work on a history of the American Military.