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The Bureau: My thirty years in Hoover's FBI Hardcover – 1979
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The Bureau: My thirty years in Hoover's FBI [Jan 01, 1979] Sullivan, William C
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This very readable book was finished by Bill Brown in 1979 after the accidental death of William C. Sullivan. Sullivan agreed to testify in 1977 for the Congressional Committee that investigated the JFK Assassination, but was shot in a hunting accident before he could appear. This 286 page book contains sixteen chapters covering 1941 to 1971, three Appendices, and an Index. Bill Brown first met Sullivan in 1968 when doing research for a television documentary ('Introduction'). In the 1970s they talked again about a book to set the record straight about the inner workings of Hoover's organization. Sullivan joined the FBI in 1941 while working for the IRS in Boston. Candidates were carefully selected (p.16). Those "dismissed with prejudice" could never again work for the government.
Chapter 1 tells of Sullivan's first year in Milwaukee and then El Paso. He worked with Charlie Winstead, who shot Dillinger. Hoover didn't like FDR or his liberals (Chapter 2). The FBI grew greatly during FDR's terms, they provided information about public officials. They investigated FDR's political enemies. Hoover hated Truman because he created the CIA to deal with foreign intelligence (p.40). Hoover had a warm relationship with Eisenhower. Hoover disliked all the Kennedy's (Chapter 3). Sullivan was puzzled by the accuracy of Oswald's shooting (p.52). Gerald Ford told Hoover what was going on in the Warren Commission. Hoover could never get anything on Bobby Kennedy (p.56). [There is an error on page 57: LBJ was out of office in 1969.] Chapter 4 tells about their work for LBJ (p.59). They investigated those who worked for Goldwater (p.64), or opposed LBJ's policies (p.65). LBJ prevented Goldwater from exploiting a sex scandal (p.70). Sullivan explains why 200 marines were ordered to Mississippi (p.74), then recalled (p.76). They investigated Spiro Agnew in 1968 (p.78), but didn't learn everything.
Public relations was most important (Chapter 5). Favorable mention of the FBI or Hoover meant a possible letter of thanks (p.85). The "Crime Records Division" dealt with Congress (p.87). The FBI did not make a typewriter for the Hiss case (p.95). They would turn to the CIA for technical needs (p.97). Sullivan lists the shortcomings of the FBI Lab (p.98), and explains the "Restricted List". Inbreeding (p.99)? Hoover never conducted an investigation or made an arrest (Chapter 6). Did Hoover ever take a vacation (p.105)? He tells about "enforced voluntary overtime" (p.106). The FBI National Academy trained city and state police to provide a network controlled by the FBI (Chapter 7). The Mafia was so powerful Hoover was afraid to tackle it (p.118). Counter-intelligence programs were used against Communists and the Klan. Many informants reported from all over the country (p.129). Sometimes they became agent provocateurs. But it worked (p.134).
Sullivan tells about the FBI's dealings with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chapter 9. James Earl Ray could not have acted alone (p.145). "The New Left" used the examples of the Civil Rights movement (Chapter 10). Did undercover agents create illegal acts (p.155)? Sullivan recommended different agencies, one to handle crime and one for counter-intelligence (Chapter 11). The loss of top-secret information cost hundreds of millions in new radar defense (p.166). An exhaustive investigation led to a suspect. They learned to do break-ins from their experiences in fighting crime (p.179). Hoover's personality had faults (p.188). Nixon and Hoover were political allies since 1947 (Chapter 12). What about John Mitchell (p.199)? Sullivan became the #3 man in 1970 (p.201). Hoover banned illegal techniques in 1970 (Chapter 13). The Huston Plan was "unlawful, unconstitutional, or in violation of civil liberties" (p.212). It failed because of John Mitchell's opposition (p.216). [Was it merely personalities? Who did Tom Huston represent?]
Sullivan says that wiretapping was done without official authorization (p.218). Nixon didn't trust his staff (Chapter 14). They wiretapped four journalists (p.220). [Does the widespread use of cell phones make wiretapping easier?] These tapes were important to the Ellsberg trial (p.227). Haldeman didn't like Sullivan (p.228). Could Sullivan destroy Hoover's image (Chapter 15)? Were the Watergate burglars "expendable in the interests of the country" (p.236)? Why didn't Nixon fire Hoover (p.240)? Sullivan finally documented his views (p.242). And so his career ended (p.247). Did Nixon decide to get rid of Hoover "once and for all" (p.298)? [Curt Gentry's book explained why Hoover could never retire: audits would reveal his financial dealings.]
Most of these anecdotes are entertaining, but present personal views. It is not a general history of The Bureau. The last chapters display a personal vendetta with Hoover. Other books provide a better history of Hoover. So what happened to those who followed as head of the FBI? No one seems to have documented the last forty years. You can appreciate Sullivan's character by his memo on How to Handle Watergate (Appendix B). Was he interested in truth and justice, or a cover-up (Item 10)? Appendix C has his list of complaints.
To Dr. King's family and supporters, my cousin Bill Kelly, never spoke about the tragic events of that day, nor did he ever look for his, "Fifteen Seconds of Fame." In fact, he died quietly without any official procession, military honor, dedication, or memorial. Canada nor the RCMP have ever honored our cousin Bill, until this book. We always believed my mother was, "crazy"....I thank this book for honoring who no one else ever has chose to do...We love cousin Bill always and forever-Richards family