If we went for a coffee today, I might bring this up. I had no idea how corrupt the U.S. Government was back in the day. This was an eye-opening book, again, in a topic that I don’t know anything about. It’s not that I have never heard of J. Edgar Hoover, I have heard lots of people talking about how significant Hoover was, but I didn’t know anything about him.
What a character!
Hoover was basically an only child growing up, and excelled at everything he did. He was a loner, and may have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum if he was around today. His accomplishments as a youth were really incredible. He had what we would consider an ideal upbringing when it came to church and church attendance and participation as well. Sadly, he didn’t maintain that.
He really only had one job, working his way up from mail clerk while he was going to law school at night, all the way to the top job of the F.B.I. He was there when it was created, and was the driving force behind it’s genesis. He worked very hard, days, nights and weekends and was a diligent, meticulous government employee in his younger years.
When he finally rose to power, he kept his power, essentially by collecting people’s secrets and doing quite a bit of spying on fellow citizens without legal authorization. He was drawn to the salacious, and kept a private stash of pornographic material that had been collected by agents. Incredibly, there doesn’t seem to be any record of him personally acting on that pornographic material even though he never married. He died an old man, full of stress and years of spoiling himself. His faithful and long time secretary discretely destroyed all the sensitive, secret and illegal files that he kept.
Not only was he adept at discovering and keeping people’s private information, he was also skilled at public relations and had a well-crafted image in the media of himself and his department. Paranoia seemed to be the stimulus for that fastidious pursuit.
This was a well written book. For someone like me with no background information about Hoover, it served my purposes well.
The big takeaway for me, however, was the realization of how corrupt the U.S. Government has been. Hoover’s story started with President Harding and I was reading voraciously having no idea that this is how politics has worked for a very long time. As Hoover’s story continued through Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, over and over the corruption stood out to me. I suppose this is just how things actually get done, or not done. Incredible. May God have mercy on America.
We absolutely have to return to a moral society that prizes truth-telling, character and right-ness instead of expediency.
Let’s close this post on a high note…
I found this book in a thrift store that U-Turn for Christ runs in Crystal River, the same one that I found “Born Fighting” in. Two great reads, and a heavy dose of American History for almost no money! Love it!