Title: J. Edgar Hoover
Author: Ralph de Toledano
de Toledano, Ralph (1973). J. Edgar Hoover: The Man in His Time. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House
Date Posted: April 17, 2013
Ralph de Toledano has written a biography which aims to disentangle Hoover from a plethora of unfair criticisms of which the author perceives the late FBI chief to be the victim. By the casuistic logic of the idolatrous Toledano, Hoover’s faults are excused as the quirks of human nature, whereas his achievements are rendered nearly superhuman. So, ironically, Hoover’s legitimate accomplishments seem vitiated by the effort to magnify them and his failings are all the more blatant for the feckless manner in which they are dismissed.
Toledano’s technique is to bombard the reader with putative facts, irresponsibly selected and documented data, and questionable hearsay—much of which is, one suspects, apocryphal—and an endless series of prejudices that are, if offered ingenuously, venal. He repeatedly fails to disambiguate between those sources he cites as favorable or antagonistic toward Hoover, and it requires little discernment to recognize the author’s own right wing sympathies. Consequently Hoover’s critics are invariably described as unreliable either for their being seditious, criminal, or ignorant, irresponsible, dishonorably calculating—into these latter categories Toledano places his bete noire, Robert Kennedy. The shoddiness of the writing in general and the proliferating flow of banalities (e.g., “crystal clear” and “pinpoint precision,” passim) finally preclude any reason for putting up with this reckless book.