Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties by Kenneth Ackerman succeeds in humanizing a man whom I confess I have despised as a rabid right-winger since I learned of his persecution of all liberals under which he always classified as communists.
While Ackerman’s book has not really changed my mind about the man who carried on his own “witch hunt” under the aegis of accusing every liberal in the U.S. of un-American activities, it has reinforced the understanding of Hoover as a twisted megalomaniac who was the epitome of absolute power corrupting absolutely.
His spying (today it could be classified as stalking) tactics kept practically everyone, including many politicians up to and including the president, under his twitchy little thumb.
Ackerman does a wonderful job of delving into the career of Hoover, and this book is a cautionary tale against letting any one person have access to so much power without a system of checks and balances as our founding fathers intended. In fact, there is an air of déjà vu as one sees the tyranny that can result when one narrow-minded bigot manipulates the public into persecuting their own people or terrorizing other nations.
Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties is a compelling read that can enlighten those who already know of Hoover’s obsessive-compulsive abuse of power; more importantly, it can educate those who do not know anything about him. If you have an interest in history or the civil rights of everyone, you should read this book.
I cannot say that you will enjoy the subject matter, but I guarantee you will love the way that Ackerman tells the story of a man who should have been kicked to the curb decades before he died in office after having ruined the lives of countless people who were guilty of being - gasp - liberal.