J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover (John Edgar Hoover), 1895–1972, American administrator, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), b. Washington, D.C. Shortly after he was admitted to the bar, he entered (1917) the Dept. of Justice and served (1919–21) as special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. In this capacity he directed the so-called Palmer Raids against allegedly radical aliens. Director of the Bureau of Investigation (renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935) after 1924, Hoover built a more efficient crime-fighting agency, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for police. During the 1930s, to publicize the work of his agency in fighting organized crime, he participated directly in the arrest of several major gangsters. After World War II, Hoover focused on the perceived threat of Communist subversion. In office until his death, he became increasingly controversial. His many critics considered his anticommunism obsessive, and it has been verified that he orchestrated systematic harassment of political dissenters and activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Hoover accumulated enormous power, in part from amassing secret files on the activities and private lives of political leaders and their associates. After his death reforms designed to prevent these abuses were undertaken. His writings include Persons in Hiding (1938), Masters of Deceit (1958), and A Study of Communism (1962).

See biographies by T. G. Powers (1987), A. G. Theoharis (1988), and C. Gentry (1991); D. J. Garrow, The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1981); K. O'Reilly, Hoover and the Un-Americans (1983); A. G. Theoharis and J. S. Cox, The Boss (1988); B. Burrough, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34 (2004).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition
Athan G. Theoharis; John Stuart Cox.
Temple University Press, 1988
J. Edgar Hoover and His G-Men
William B. Breuer.
Praeger Publishers, 1995
Stalking the Sociological Imagination: J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Surveillance of American Sociology
Mike Forrest Keen.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Hoover Damned; Exposing the Ultimate G-Man - and Finding the Ultimate Bureaucrat
Branch, Taylor.
The Washington Monthly, Vol. 23, No. 10, October 1991
Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement
Ward Churchill; Jim Vander Wall.
South End Press, 1988
Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front
Francis MacDonnell.
Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Nine "J. Edgar Hoover versus the Nazis"
Cold War Fugitive: A Personal Story of the McCarthy Years
Gil Green.
International Publishers, 1984
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "What J. Edgar Hoover Wanted"
The Surprisingly Stronger Case for the Legality of the NSA Surveillance Program: The FDR Precedent
Katyal, Neal; Caplan, Richard.
Stanford Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 4, February 2008
Protest from the Right
Robert A. Rosenstone.
Glencoe Press, 1968
Librarian’s tip: "Vigilantes Not Needed, J. Edgar Hoover" begins on p. 106
G-Men, Hoover's FBI in American Popular Culture
Richard Gid Powers; Daniel M. Finnegan.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1983
Historical Dictionary of Law Enforcement
Mitchel P. Roth.
Greenwood Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "Hoover, John Edgar" begins on p. 155
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