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© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

J. Edgar Hoover: Selected full-text books and articles

The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition By Athan G. Theoharis; John Stuart Cox Temple University Press, 1988
J. Edgar Hoover and His G-Men By William B. Breuer Praeger Publishers, 1995
Hoover Damned; Exposing the Ultimate G-Man - and Finding the Ultimate Bureaucrat By Branch, Taylor The Washington Monthly, Vol. 23, No. 10, October 1991
Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front By 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 By 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 By Katyal, Neal; Caplan, Richard Stanford Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 4, February 2008
Protest from the Right By 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 By Richard Gid Powers; Daniel M. Finnegan Southern Illinois University Press, 1983
Historical Dictionary of Law Enforcement By Mitchel P. Roth Greenwood Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: "Hoover, John Edgar" begins on p. 155
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