Richard Powers’s valuable and well-balanced biography
of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director
J. Edgar Hoover reminds us of the two foremost
themes that any analysis of the FBI’s role in
twentieth-century American politics must confront:
how the Bureau’s biases generally reflected
the opinions and preferences of many Americans,
and how the Bureau regularly acted, even in its
worst abuses of power, not as an independent
“rogue elephant,” but as a direct agent of various
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