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The Origins of FBI Counterintelligence (Modern War Studies) Hardcover – March 2, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0700614950 ISBN-10: 0700614958 Edition: annotated edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A richly detailed account of the FBI's response to the world crisis of the 1930s and 1940s that overturns much accepted 'wisdom' about FBI intelligence failures and turf battles. Batvinis stays close to his sources while telling an engrossing story that should become the new standard account of FBI counterintelligence. A stimulating and fascinating work." Richard Gid Powers, author of Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover "A strong and compelling book on the FBI's pre-World War II transformation." Katherine Sibley, author of Red Spies in America: Stolen Secrets and the Dawn of the Cold War "An important book on a little-explored aspect of FBI history." Athan Theoharis, author of The FBI and American Democracy: A Brief Critical History"

Review

"This interesting book traces the development of the FBI's counterintelligence role in the crucible of pre-World War II security concerns." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; annotated edition edition (March 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700614958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700614950
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ray Batvinis website: FBIstudies.com. After looking up to police officers and law enforcement officials throughout his youth, Ray Batvinis joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1972 and served there for the next 25 years. His work included organized crime, counterintelligence and espionage, and international and domestic terrorism. He taught agents in the FBI's training unit and served for 12 years in the FBI's Baltimore Field Office as the Supervisory Special Agent of Counterintelligence.

After his retirement, Batvinis pursued his PhD in American History and earned it in 2002 from The Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation focused on the history of FBI, which later became the basis for his first book, "The Origins of FBI Counterintelligence." His second book about FBI history is entitled, "Hoover's Secret War Against Axis Spies: FBI Counterespionage During World War II."

Dr. Batvinis teaches FBI history at various universities. He lives in Maryland and continues his research as well as speaking engagements and teaching. For more information, go to his website: FBIstudies.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By W. Houghton on June 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a fast, easy read with lots of details and facts about the early history of FBI. It is a must read for students of the pre-WW II era. Batvinis has done some supurb primary reasearch, even gong back to FDR's personal files to see what he said about the threats against our country. I just retired from the FBI after 30 years and I didn't know half the stuff in this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike Hartman on March 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Witness, Whitaker Chambers described the "conspiratorial methods" to avoid detection that were utilized by the Communist underground in the U.S. He later determined that these techniques "were almost wholly unnecessary." It was the 1930s and the U.S. government did not have an internal counterintelligence service. It was a time when tax dollars were being spent to create federal agencies that could respond to the Great Depression. Law enforcement was focused on a crime spree spurred by economic hardships. The Department of State, which was responsible for counterintelligence, was more concerned with passport fraud than espionage. The neglect of this critical government responsibility had severe consequences, as the Venona decryptions have proven.

In his book,The Origins of FBI Counterintelligence, Raymond J. Batvinis provides a history of the U.S. government's recognition in the late 1930s that a specific, professional, and coordinated response to clandestine foreign-government activities was necessary. As Batvinis explains, his book "traces the factors that led to the sudden awareness of the intelligence threat facing the nation, the reaction to that threat and the steps taken to confront it." To provide context, he bookends his narrative with two Nazi espionage cases that significantly impacted the decisions of this era. Batvinis details the mistakes and failures of the early counterintelligence effort, the tensions and rivalries between the government bureaucracies, and the innovations and accomplishments of the resulting institutional structures, such as the Interdepartmental Intelligence Conference, the Special Intelligence Service, and the Plant Survey Program.

His story concerns historical change.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on January 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine volume that offers a timely appraisal of how one of the nation's oldest and most revered law enforcement organizations restructured itself to execute the counterintelligence mission that became so critical as the world careened toward war in the 1930s. In the process Herbert Hoover took the opportunity to greatly expand the scope and power of the FBI to undertake surveillance across a much broader front than ever before. The author, Raymond J. Batvinis, does much to show how the FBI transformed itself, played politics, and became a publicly revered entity through its emphasis on counterintelligence.

Raymond Batvinis also does a fine job of exploring the bureaucratic battles within the government--especially between the FBI and the State Department--over who performed the mission and how it would be executed. The combination of the FBI's criminal investigation skills coupled with new techniques and objectives--for example wiretapping and domestic surveillance--presages some the debates and abuses of the post-9/11 era. In this regard "The Origins of FBI Counter-Intelligence" is highly instructive.

While an excellent book in overall, I was taken by the lack of depth in discussing the beginnings of the dispute between J. Edgar Hoover and General William Donovan of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, over jurisdictional issues involving counterintelligence from the onset of World War II. This is why I gave it a four instead of a five star review. Nonetheless, this is a very fine study of an important topic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen D. Calhoun on July 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Marylanders: Without Shelter or a Crumb I strongly recommend this book. Dr. Batvinis has thoroughly researched the topic of our government's efforts prior to World War Two to create a system to counteract Axis and Soviet espionage. His historical research and conclusions are very relevant to the current issues we now face in our post 9/11 world. The issue of Constitutional law versus our need for national security is explored through the author's thorough examination of the decision making process between government appointed and elected officials.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Henry M. Holden on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is a wealth of declassified information on the pre-WWII FBI and their efforts to keep America safe from Axis spies bent on causing chaos on the homefront. As a retired Special Agent in counterintelligence Batvinis' knowledge and a storyteller's skill, provides a rich historical narrative that has some eye-opening information. An interesting part of the narrative is how Hoover fought fiercely over the control of counterintelligence, and tells how the agency combined its crime-fighting expertise with its new wiretapping authority to spy on foreign agents. People opposed to the FBI's current war on terror should read this book and imagine what if the FBI was not as proactive. Where would we be today?
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