10 Must-Read Books about J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover was the FBI director for almost 50 years, and during that time he was involved in some of the most notorious cases in American history.

These 10 books offer a glimpse into Hoover's life and career, and explore his impact on the FBI and American society as a whole.

Whether you're interested in learning more about one of the most controversial figures in American history, or just want to read a good biography, these books are sure to satisfy.

Books about J. Edgar Hoover

1. The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

The Burglary

Written by: Betty Medsger

Published: 2014

Pages: 538  

In her book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI, journalist Betty Medsger reconstructs one of American history's most daring and consequential break-ins.

In 1971, eight antiwar activists calling themselves the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and stole files exposing decades of illegal spying by the Bureau on Americans.

The burglary had a profound impact on civil liberties and government accountability in the United States, and Medsger's book is based on unprecedented access to participants in the heist.

"The Burglary" is a heart-stopping read that will leave readers wondering about the true nature of power and justice.

2. Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties

Young J. Edgar

Written by: Kenneth D. Ackerman

Published: 2007

Pages: 496

In the early 1920s, a young J. Edgar Hoover was appointed head of the newly created Bureau of Investigation. His mission was to root out Communist subversion and protect America from domestic threats.

But in his zeal to combat "radical" forces, Hoover trampled on the civil liberties of countless Americans.

In this book, Ken Gormley takes us back in time to the early days of Hoover at the helm and what happened during those days that led to the bureau creating a vast surveillance state.

3. The Director: My Years Assisting J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover

Written by: Paul Letersky

Published: 2021

Pages: 320

Paul Letersky was a personal assistant to J. Edgar Hoover for over two years. In this memoir, he offers a firsthand account of life with the controversial and enigmatic director of the FBI.

From handling sensitive information to his day-to-day dealings with working with Hoover, Letersky provides a rare glimpse into one of the most powerful men in American history.

It’s one of the few inside accounts of Hoover, one of the most powerful men in law enforcement in the United States.

4. Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies

Master of Deceit

Written by: Marc Aronson

Published: 2012

Pages: 230

As America's first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover was one of the most influential and controversial figures in 20th-century America.

In his book, Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies, historian Marc Aronson tells how Hoover used his power to shape American history, for better and for worse.

Hoover left an indelible mark on American society from his early days investigating Bolsheviks and anarchists to his involvement in high-profile cases like the Lindbergh kidnapping and the civil rights movement.

Aronson's book is a fascinating look at a complicated man who helped shape the course of American history.

5. J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets

J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets

Written by: Curt Gentry

Published: 2001

Pages: 848

In J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets, Curt Gentry does an excellent job of piecing together the life of one of America's most mysterious figures.

Drawing on interviews with friends, family, colleagues, and newly declassified FBI files, Gentry provides a riveting account of Hoover's rise to power and his decades-long tenure as director of the bureau.

Despite being a public figure, Hoover was constantly hidden behind a wall of secrets - some self-imposed, others forced upon him.

This book is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of America's most complex and controversial figures.

It was first published in 1991.

6. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Killers of the Flower Moon

Written by: David Grann

Published: 2017

Pages: 338

In the early 1920s, the Osage Indian tribe became the wealthiest people per capita in the world thanks to oil deposits discovered beneath their reservation in Oklahoma. Then, they began to be poisoned, shot, and burned alive one by one.

In just a few years, several Osage were dead.

Suspicion immediately fell on their white neighbors, but no arrests were made. J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were called to investigate their first homicide case.

It would take the tenacious young FBI director and an undercover agent to try to find out what was happening to tribal members.

Killers of the Flower Moon is a searing true-crime story that uncovers one of America's most chilling mysteries and exposes a dark chapter in our history.

7. Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34

Public Enemies

Written by: Bryan Burrough

Published: 2005

Pages: 640

The early 1930s was a brutal time in America. Gang violence was rampant, and the country was in the throes of the Great Depression.

In two years, 1933 -1934, criminals such as John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, and Bonnie and Clyde turned into national icons and were dubbed "Public Enemies." The government knew they needed to be stopped.

The FBI's first director, J. Edgar Hoover, stepped in and led a massive crackdown on criminals, resulting in numerous high-profile arrests and trials.

Public Enemies tells the story of this dark period in American history when lawlessness ruled, and the FBI made a name for themselves.

8. Enemies: A History of the FBI

Enemies: A History of the FBI

Written by: Tim Weiner

Published: 2012

Pages: 537

The FBI has a long and complicated history, full of highs and lows. From its early days investigating corruption to its more modern role as a counter-terrorism force, the FBI has adapted to a changing world. In Enemies: A History of the FBI, Tim Weiner delves into this history, exploring how the bureau has changed.

This book is a fascinating look at how the bureau has operated in different eras and how it has sometimes struggled to keep up with the times.

You'll learn more about J. Edgar Hoover's role during his more than 40 years as head of the FBI and how the organization worked with or investigated key United States Presidents.

9. Inga: Kennedy's Great Love, Hitler's Perfect Beauty, and J. Edgar Hoover's Prime Suspect

Inga: Kennedy's Great Love

Written by: Scott Farris

Published: 2016

Pages: 488

Inga Arvad was born in Denmark in 1913. She had a successful journalism career, interviewing prominent people during her storied career.

She spent time with Adolf Hitler and was his special guest during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She dated and fell in love with John F. Kennedy Jr.

She was also under surveillance for years by the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover as a suspected Nazi sympathizer and spy.

In this book, you’ll learn more about her famed life, her time with JFK Jr., and when she was under investigation by the FBI.

10. F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature

F.B. Eyes

Written by: William J. Maxwell

Published: 2014

Pages: 320

It's no secret that J. Edgar Hoover was a paranoid and ruthless man, but what is less known is how his "ghost readers" helped him control African American literature and cultural expression.

By closely monitoring African American authors and their work, Hoover's ghost readers were able to frame black literature as a threat to national security, which ultimately led to increased surveillance and censorship.

In this book, you’ll learn more about this disturbing episode in history and how the FBI used its power to control and silence marginalized groups.