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Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover [Kindle Edition]

Anthony Summers
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Anthony Summers peels back layers of fact and hearsay to reveal the truth about one of the most powerful Americans of the twentieth century
No one exemplified paranoia and secrecy at the heart of American power better than J. Edgar Hoover, the original director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For this consummate biography, renowned investigative journalist Anthony Summers interviewed more than eight hundred witnesses and pored through thousands of documents to get at the truth about the man who headed the FBI for fifty years, persecuted political enemies, blackmailed politicians, and lived his own surprising secret life. Ultimately, Summers paints a portrait of a fatally flawed individual who should never have held such power, and for so long.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Summers's expose throws light on Hoover's relentless corruption and other skeletons in his closet. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“I read Official and Confidential with mounting horror, fascination, revulsion . . . Enthralling.” —Paul Theroux
“An important book that should give us all pause, especially policy makers.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Summers’ book is not just a history of a single hero-sized hypocrite, it is a history of a vast national delusion.” —The Spectator 

Product Details

  • File Size: 1098 KB
  • Print Length: 626 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0091941776
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (January 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006OG53X8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,416 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Man of Contradictions 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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and eye-opening October 17, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography on J. Edgar Hoover! 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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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing,Interesting, Disturbing. 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A "tell all" book about J Edgar. December 7, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How power corrupts ... 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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48 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unsubtle biased language ruins credibility July 19, 2000
This book reads like a tabloid, and it's hard to consider it could be more than just that.
Not only are sources not quoted in a scientific historical way, but the book also rests heavily on the use of unsubtle biased language against Hoover. I do not doubt that Hoover used illegal means for his person goals, but I would much rather have read a book that gives me the feeling I should take it seriously, because it shows on every page and footnote it takes itself and its investigation serious. This unbalanced account of his life has flipped over to one side, proclaiming Hoover the bad guy, without exploring even the possiblilty of a positive side of the man. It's as if the writer settles a scoure here. It left me with the uneasy feeling I do not know WHAT to believe and what to discard.
If you like a good scandal, this is your book. If you want historical facts, look elsewhere
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing expose of 5 decades of lies and deceit May 10, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a biography, but also proves the old axiom "power corrupts, total power totally corrupts". Hoover was the epitome of a hypocrite: condemning homosexuals when he was one, keeping secret files (mostly sexual exploits and deviations) on politicians and citizens to use against them or for his own blackmail purposes.

Hoover's FBI had many accomplishments with fingerprint files, discipline of agents, and central crime laboratory, but allowed the Mafia to expand exponentially, obsessed about finding communists long after they had any power (if they ever did have any), and refused to cooperate with CIA and Secret Service. The FBI also messed up with Pearl Harbor info and JFK assassination prevention (a couple of fairly major events). He kept complete power because of his secret files that Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon feared but would use for their own benefit.

I think that the book dealt with Hoover's sexual deviances and his obsession with other people's sexual deviances to an excessive amount, I would like to have had more info on the FBI, but the book is about Hoover and not the FBI. All in all, somewhat interesting and enlightening, but mostly disturbing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars We'll written
The author has used great research to tell a story that everyone should know. A great read even though a frightening abuse of power on the part of the Director of a powerful... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Judith Isenhour
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Research
Apparently based on solid research. If you are expecting the National Inquirer, you will be disappointed. Well written and thoughtful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ron
5.0 out of 5 stars Well thought out.
This book takes a look at Hovers many misdeeds. After cross referencing other notable books, there seems to be many many valid studies and stories relating to this authors writing. Read more
Published 2 months ago by A. D., Begin
5.0 out of 5 stars History exposed.
Isn't it interesting that the public gets informed of a tyrant years later? Want to know why that the Johnson archives in Texas are still held in a state of National Security and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by William E. Gleason
5.0 out of 5 stars EXPLORING THE DARK LEGACY OF J. EDGAR HOOVER (1895-1972)
Reading "Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover" was an edifying, revelatory, and startling experience. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MONTGOMERY
5.0 out of 5 stars EXPLORING THE DARK LEGACY OF J. EDGAR HOOVER (1895-1972)
Reading "Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover" was an edifying, revelatory, and startling experience. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MONTGOMERY
3.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt, This man was one of the most corrupt people I ever...
It was recommended by a friend. J Edgar not only was a back-biter, less than honest politician. I could care less about his sexuality. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sadie Blake
3.0 out of 5 stars J. Edgar Hoover
Lacking on footnotes; high on ctiticism, which is OK except more documentation shluld have been provided.

Purchase and delivery are rated 5-star.
Published 6 months ago by Jack R. Kincade
5.0 out of 5 stars Official and Confidential J Edgar Hoover
I found this book to be very informative. I already knew that Mr Hoover was an undesirable character, but he truly was a low life. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Polly Mcfarland
4.0 out of 5 stars The unelected government
A fascinating expose of Hoover's personal and professional life, with lots of tantalizing anecdotes like this one:

Billy Byars Sr. Read more
Published 8 months ago by TLR
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