Title: J. Edgar Hoover (Gentry)
Author: Curt Gentry
Gentry, Curt (1991). J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. New York: Plume
HV7911.H6 G46 1992
Date Posted: April 25, 2013
In a richly textured biography of the former FBI director who died in 1972, Gentry, coauthor of Helter Skelter, takes a decidedly unfriendly look at the man and his career, revealing how Hoover found his niche in life as a “hunter of men,” served under 10 presidents over a period of five decades, creating what Eleanor Roosevelt characterized as an American Gestapo.
We’re shown Hoover scheming to help Thomas Dewey replace Harry Truman in the White House in return for a promise that he would be appointed attorney general; making use of secret information on Senator Joseph McCarthy while at the same time contributing significantly to “McCarthyism”; stalking John F. Kennedy even before he went into politics; covertly helping Richard Nixon become president, then virtually forcing the Nixon administration to embark on the road to Watergate.
Hoover believed that America’s morality was very much his business and, as Gentry demonstrates, the director equated morality with sexual abstinence. His horrified fascination with homosexuality (mixed with a strong streak of misogyny) are masterfully depicted here, as well as his virulent racism, disclosed in fresh material on Hoover’s efforts to destroy Martin Luther King Jr.
It is hard to imagine another portrait of Hoover that could surpass this one for detail, depth and sheer vitriol. Gentry makes clearer than previous biographers how J. Edgar Hoover became and, for the greater part of his tenure, remained the most powerful man in Washington.