Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review # 108: Master Of Deceit- J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies by Marc Aronson

     Master of Deceit is a detailed account of the life, times, and "crimes" of J. Edgar Hoover from the 1920's to the 1960's. Special attention is given to Hoover's creation and directing of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as his impact on the future of the United States.

      High school U.S. History classes definitely left out a few facts about J. Edgar Hoover - at least mine did. What I already knew: Hoover created the FBI; what I didn't know: he ran the FBI - or variants of it - from the presidency of Coolidge (1924) through Nixon (1972), and during that time was known to use illegal methods to gain information. Master of Deceit is an eye-opener and an excellent research resource into the life and career of Hoover and his organization. Marc Aronson has written a biography full of fascinating facts and stories supplemented with over 100 images. I like the format, the short chapters, the large array of images, and the overall set-up/timeline. At ~230 pages, it is long enough to convey all the facts in an interesting manner, but short enough to encourage reading and comprehension. It's easy-to-read, fast-paced, and has a really great notes section and bibliography; I especially liked reading the author's note about his extensive research. I learned a lot of surprising information, particularly about political figures, but Aronson's goals are clear - as stated in the epilogue, "Master of Deceit shows that we must always question both the heroes we favor and the enemies we hate. We must remain openminded..." There is always more than one side to every story, and the author's research is well documented. This book is directed towards teenagers, but I highly recommend this book to both teens and adults interested in Hoover or the FBI, or readers looking for their next non-fiction fix. This is also a great companion to the new movie J. Edgar, a film about Hoover's career.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author (Candlewick Press) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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