Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover, By Anthony Summers
Hoover's dirty (and fluffy) laundry
Sunday 29 January 2012
Anthony Summers' biography of J Edgar Hoover was first published in 1993, but has been reissued to tie in with the release of Clint Eastwood's big-budget movie (in which the squat, ugly Hoover is played by – who else? – Leonardo DiCaprio).
The book is more exciting, and more damning, than the film. Summers charges that Hoover, who founded the FBI in 1935 and remained at the helm for four decades, had a "crippled psyche", was "capable of great evil", enacted "a state of apartheid" in his offices, and "would have made a perfect high-level Nazi". Those are a few of the more benign accusations.
Official and Confidential abounds in juicy detail. The famously prudish Hoover was a different man in private. An acquaintance remembers him flouncing around a hotel room in a "fluffy black dress, lace stockings, high heels and a black curly wig". Others recall him participating enthusiastically in homosexual orgies.
Hoover was, in other words, a monumental hypocrite. He used his vast network of agents to persecute gay people and to blackmail philandering politicians. In a neat twist, his proclivities left him open to blackmail himself, notably by Mafia bosses who learned of his "secret life"; as a result Hoover went easy on organised crime.
Summers has no axe to grind, and he pulls no punches. This is bold, excoriating, unmissable stuff.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie: Jared Leto's now more petrifying when out of his Joker make-up
Novel Scarlett Johansson tried to ban, Grégoire Delacourt’s The First Thing You See, to be published in UK
The Girl in the Spider's Web, David Lagercrantz, review: Stieg Larsson's heroes return in a thrilling new intrigue
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn