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.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 Prince Harry leaving the armed forced to pursue conservation projects in Africa
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East