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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thorough history of the FBI, February 21, 2012
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This review is from: Enemies: A History of the FBI (Hardcover)
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." Weiner draws attention to Hoover's extraordinary longevity on the job -- presidents would come and go, so would CIA directors and the heads of military intelligence, but Hoover would remain, and as a consequence, he was provided the singular opportunity to develop a remarkable degree of patience, and he did. It was LBJ who got Hoover to go after the Klan after three civil rights workers went missing in Mississippi during the summer of 1964; LBJ was a force. Following the Watergate break-in under the Nixon presidency, it was a high-ranking FBI individual, known as "Deep Throat" who leaked info to Bob Woodward in order to counter obstruction of justice by the White House. Hoover died in 1972. In 1975, after Nixon had resigned, Congress began its investigation into past practices of the FBI

More recently, with the enactment of the Patriot Act during October 2001, the FBI has gained even greater powers in the realm of counter-terrorism, enabling it to search for terrorist connections by gathering information on thousands of Americans. Are we Americans prepared to give up more of our civil rights for greater safety? This is an issue that all Americans need to be concerned about. Tim Weiner has provided an even-handed assessment of these critical questions and has written a thorough and excellent history of the FBI.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 8, 2014, 4:09:46 PM PST
Mark T says:
I saw Mr. Weiner interviewed on the Charlie Rose program. Rose appeared nearly speechless when Mr. Weiner stated, succinctly, that every institution of national security had been penetrated by Soviet espionage--essentially as the oft-smeared "extremists" (anybody to the "right" of Nelson Rockefeller) had been claiming since the 1950s.

This controversy over Soviet espionage is critical to understanding almost every aspect of foreign policy to this day. One side seems so insistent on waving the bloody shirt of "McCarthyism" that it cannot come to grips with even the most basic facts of the matter, such as the treasonous character of Alger Hiss. The other side feels justified in being suspicious about the basic loyalty of anybody in the State Department of any Democrat administration. Any book that acknowledges the reality of the success of the espionage is worth considering as a source, as this seems is the defining point of the issue; as titled by the book by historians Haynes and Klehr, "In Denial", it appears that the faculties of the history departments of the elite U.S. universities are committed to "fronting" for this far-left point of view. This means that most of what passes as history textbooks avoid the issue entirely or barely mention it in passing.
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