General Overviews


Cecil, Matthew. Hoover's FBI and the Fourth Estate: The Campaign to Control the Press and the Bureau's Image. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2014.

Goulden, Washington Times, 27 May 2014, and Intelligencer 20.3 (Spring-Summer 2014), says this work "is an ill-disguised hatchet job that reveals the author to be either ill-informed or duplicitious."

Courtney, Peter C. "To Render or Intern: Counterterrorism Methods of the FBI SIS and CIA." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 26, no. 3 (Fall 2013): 482-506.

The author argues that "legal constraints exist in the pursuit of third country rendition, excessive interrogation, and relying on the Alien Enemy Act as a legal grounding; these should be avoided in seeking a legal counterterrorism operation."

Graff, Garrett M. The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror. New York Little Brown, 2011.

Peake, Studies 55.3 (Sep. 2011), notes that the "principal focus" here is FBI Director Robert "Mueller and the global counterterrorism mission." The author shows that under Mueller "progress was continuous and positive, and the Bureau of today bears little resemblance to Hoover's organization." The Threat Matrix is "a well-told story and a reading pleasure."

Kessler, Ronald. The Secrets of the FBI. New York: Crown, 2011,

Peake, Stidies 56.1 (Mar. 2012) and Intelligencer 19.2 (Summer-Fall 2012), notes that this work "covers some of the same ground" as his earlier The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI (2002), "but focuses on elements of the Bureau not previously revealed publicly. Perhaps the most interesting are tales about the Tactical Operations Unit, which performs legal, state-of-the-art break-ins.... It is surprising that Kessler was given access to this never-before-mentioned activity.... There are no source notes.... The writing is brisk and his tone occasionally gossipy, but Kessler is easy to read. Overall, one gets a good picture of the scope and magnitude of the varied and difficult jobs performed by the Bureau."

Medsger, Betty. The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI. New York: Knopf, 2014.

In March 1971, eight antiwar activists broke into the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania; stole classified files; and distributed those files to journalists. The author, a Washington Post reporter, was one of the recipients. In this book, having now discovered who the burglars were, Medsger returns to the story.

Goulden, Washington Times, 13 Apr. 2014, comments that the author "concludes her overlong book with lengthy and worshipful profiles of the burglars, written in admiring prose that validates their choice of her to tell their stories." To Oshinsky, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2014, the personal stories of the burglars, "impeccably researched and elegantly presented..., are the best parts of an engaging but overstuffed book.... Medsger's frequent hyperbole... is also unsettling." Garrow, Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2014, refers to Medsger's "sprawling and sometimes emotionally compelling account."

Svendsen, Adam D.M. "The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Change: Addressing US Domestic Counter-terrorism Intelligence." Intelligence and National Security 27, no. 3 (Jun. 2012): 371-397.

"[W]hen reflecting over ... the years 2000-10, although there have been significant problems and paucities encountered along the way, the contemporary FBI has made some progress. In its condition of ongoing transformation, so far the FBI appears to be heading in a more positive than negative direction. Its increased adoption of intelligence elements is commendable."

Theoharis, Athan G. Abuse of Power: How Cold War Surveillance and Secrecy Policy Shaped the Response to 9/11. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2011.

Peake, Studies 56.1 (Mar. 2012), notes that this is the latest contribution to the author's "series of books, all critical of Bureau operations.... The thesis of Theoharis's work is that the [FBI] abused its powers [after 1936] and continues to do so today." This work "is carefully documented to support Theoharis's position, and while alternative explanations are possible, he does not provide them. Nevertheless, this book is deserving of scholarly attention."

Weiner, Tim. Enemies: A History of the FBI. New York: Random House, 2012.

Drogin, Los Angeles Times, 22 Feb. 2012, says that the author "eviscerates the FBI in a sweeping narrative that is all the more entertaining because it is so redolent with screw-ups and scandals.... [T]his is a mordant counter-history.... Presumably the FBI has done some useful things over the years, but they get short shrift here." However, "Weiner doesn't buy the Hoover rumors," and even "offers grudging respect for the astute cunning and iron will of a man he calls 'an American Machiavelli.'"

For Temple-Raston, Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2012, "[w]hat makes 'Enemies' so compelling is that it draws heavily on previously unavailable intelligence files.... Weiner brings together the files, oral histories and newly discovered notes in Hoover's own fountain-pen handwriting to reveal the FBI director in the moment, as events were unfolding. The combination provides new insight into Hoover and what motivated him."

Peake, Studies 56.3 (Sep. 2012) and Intelligencer 19.3 (Winter-Spring 2013), finds that "there is little new in the book, and there are some discrepancies and omissions," including "many familiar and important cases," and "many known successes are overlooked entirely.... Enemies is well written, however, with good documentation and a definite point of view."

To West, IJI&C 26.3 (Fall 2013), there is much that is wrong in the author's presentation. For example, Weiner's "version of the objectives of German espionage in the United States [prior to World War I] is strangely skewed"; the little that he mentions about the FBI in World War II "is dubious"; his grasp of the VENONA project "is quite flawed"; his "account of a meeting between [Percy] Sillitoe and Hoover ... is entirely imaginary"; and he tends to "bend[] the presented facts to suit the story, no matter that the two do not fit."

Wise, David. "When the FBI Spent Decades Hunting for a Soviet Spy on Its Staff." Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2013. [http://www.smithsonianmag.com]

The author outlines the FBI's unsuccessful spy hunt from 1962 when KGB officer Aleksei Kulak (FEDORA) walked into the FBI office in Manhattan and said the FBI had a spy in its ranks

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