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Seriously, Read a Book!

Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...

Currently reading

The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Notetaking
Mike Rohde
The Antidote
Oliver Burkeman
The Kind Worth Killing
Peter Swanson
Data Points: Visualization That Means Something
Nathan Yau
James Buchanan
Jean H. Baker, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover

Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover - Richard Hack Lana: OK fine, I can’t prove anything right now.
Malory: The didn’t stop J. Edna Hoover from persecuting Martin Luther King, now did it?
Lana: Wait, what does that have to do.. Wait.. J. Edna?
Malory: You never heard that? How Hoover was a huge cross-dressing chicken hawk?
Lana: I had not.

Well, Wild Bill Donovan sure knew how to pick 'em because Malory Archer was pretty dead on when it came to J. Edgar Hoover. Ok, so maybe he wasn't a cross-dressing chicken hawk, but he was a grade-A jerk obsessed with muckraking and poking into the goings-ons of anyone who pinged his radar as being 'subversive' (a term which he used pretty liberally).

Hoover's sexuality normally wouldn't be a point of interest for me - live and let live and whatnot. However, his preoccupation with the bedroom activities of others kind of puts a spotlight on his hetero-normative standards. For example, he kept compulsively close tabs on the communiqués between Eleanor Roosevelt and one of her female friends, accusing her of keeping the company of "communists, homosexuals and other Bohemian filth." And, yes, his relationship with Clyde Tolson was pretty chummy. However, the author seems to agree with Roy Cohn's assessment that Hoover was too scared to ever really confront his own sexuality. The accusations that some of the 'pornographic smut' collected to get into the heads of deviants out there may have ended up in Hoover's home collection come across as being pretty legit.

This book is a short, whirlwind look at Hoover's life and career. It portrays an insecure man more focused on how he and his G-men were portrayed to the public than he was on their actual successes in the field. In the end, with historical hindsight, J. Edgar's "secret life" seems sad and pathetic.