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The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of Investigation. It begins in 1971 in an America being split apart by the Vietnam War . . . A small group of activists—eight men and women—the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, inspired by Daniel Berrigan’s rebellious Catholic peace movement, set out to use a more active, but nonviolent, method of civil disobedience to provide hard evidence once and for all that the government was operating outside the laws of the land.             The would-be burglars—nonpro’s—were ordinary people leading lives of purpose: a professor of religion and former freedom rider; a day-care director; a physicist; a cab driver; an antiwar activist, a lock picker; a graduate student haunted by members of her family lost to the Holocaust and the passivity of German civilians under Nazi rule. Betty Medsger's extraordinary book re-creates in resonant detail how this group of unknowing thieves, in their meticulous planning of the burglary, scouted out the low-security FBI building in a small town just west of Philadelphia, taking into consideration every possible factor, and how they planned the break-in for the night of the long-anticipated boxing match between Joe Frazier (war supporter and friend to President Nixon) and Muhammad Ali (convicted for refusing to serve in the military), knowing that all would be fixated on their televisions and radios. Medsger writes that the burglars removed all of the FBI files and, with the utmost deliberation, released them to various journalists and members of Congress, soon upending the public’s perception of the inviolate head of the Bureau and paving the way for the first overhaul of the FBI since Hoover became its director in 1924.  And we see how the release of the FBI files to the press set the stage for the sensational release three months later, by Daniel Ellsberg, of the top-secret, seven-thousand-page Pentagon study on U.S. decision-making regarding the Vietnam War, which became known as the Pentagon Papers.             At the heart of the heist—and the book—the contents of the FBI files revealing J. Edgar Hoover’s “secret counterintelligence program” COINTELPRO, set up in 1956 to investigate and disrupt dissident political groups in the United States in order “to enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles,” to make clear to all Americans that an FBI agent was “behind every mailbox,” a plan that would discredit, destabilize, and demoralize groups, many of them legal civil rights organizations and antiwar groups that Hoover found offensive—as well as black power groups, student activists, antidraft protestors, conscientious objectors. The author, the first reporter to receive the FBI files, began to cover this story during the three years she worked for The Washington Post and continued her investigation long after she'd left the paper, figuring out who the burglars were, and convincing them, after decades of silence, to come forward and tell their extraordinary story.  The Burglary is an important and riveting book, a portrait of the potential power of non­violent resistance and the destructive power of excessive government secrecy and spying.


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The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of Investigation. It begins in 1971 in an America being split apart by the Vietnam War . . . A small group of activists—eight men and women—the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, inspired by Daniel Berrigan’s rebellious Catholic peace movement, set out to use a more active, but nonviolent, method of civil disobedience to provide hard evidence once and for all that the government was operating outside the laws of the land.             The would-be burglars—nonpro’s—were ordinary people leading lives of purpose: a professor of religion and former freedom rider; a day-care director; a physicist; a cab driver; an antiwar activist, a lock picker; a graduate student haunted by members of her family lost to the Holocaust and the passivity of German civilians under Nazi rule. Betty Medsger's extraordinary book re-creates in resonant detail how this group of unknowing thieves, in their meticulous planning of the burglary, scouted out the low-security FBI building in a small town just west of Philadelphia, taking into consideration every possible factor, and how they planned the break-in for the night of the long-anticipated boxing match between Joe Frazier (war supporter and friend to President Nixon) and Muhammad Ali (convicted for refusing to serve in the military), knowing that all would be fixated on their televisions and radios. Medsger writes that the burglars removed all of the FBI files and, with the utmost deliberation, released them to various journalists and members of Congress, soon upending the public’s perception of the inviolate head of the Bureau and paving the way for the first overhaul of the FBI since Hoover became its director in 1924.  And we see how the release of the FBI files to the press set the stage for the sensational release three months later, by Daniel Ellsberg, of the top-secret, seven-thousand-page Pentagon study on U.S. decision-making regarding the Vietnam War, which became known as the Pentagon Papers.             At the heart of the heist—and the book—the contents of the FBI files revealing J. Edgar Hoover’s “secret counterintelligence program” COINTELPRO, set up in 1956 to investigate and disrupt dissident political groups in the United States in order “to enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles,” to make clear to all Americans that an FBI agent was “behind every mailbox,” a plan that would discredit, destabilize, and demoralize groups, many of them legal civil rights organizations and antiwar groups that Hoover found offensive—as well as black power groups, student activists, antidraft protestors, conscientious objectors. The author, the first reporter to receive the FBI files, began to cover this story during the three years she worked for The Washington Post and continued her investigation long after she'd left the paper, figuring out who the burglars were, and convincing them, after decades of silence, to come forward and tell their extraordinary story.  The Burglary is an important and riveting book, a portrait of the potential power of non­violent resistance and the destructive power of excessive government secrecy and spying.

30 review for The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nicole~

    “What do you think of burglarizing an FBI office?” asked mild-mannered physics professor William Davidon, as cooly as if he were offering beer at a ball game to some particular friends - fellow anti-war activists who harbored unswerving yet unconfirmed suspicions of the FBI spying on Americans, held a passionate opposition to the Vietnam war, and believed their constitutional rights to dissent against it, were being suppressed. An eclectic bunch -"a religion professor, a daycare center worke “What do you think of burglarizing an FBI office?” asked mild-mannered physics professor William Davidon, as cooly as if he were offering beer at a ball game to some particular friends - fellow anti-war activists who harbored unswerving yet unconfirmed suspicions of the FBI spying on Americans, held a passionate opposition to the Vietnam war, and believed their constitutional rights to dissent against it, were being suppressed. An eclectic bunch -"a religion professor, a daycare center worker, a graduate student in a health profession, another professor, a social worker, and two people who had dropped out of college to work nearly full-time on building opposition to the war " - accepted the insane challenge of breaking into “the offices of the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country" at whose helm reigned possibly the most feared man of the era. There is an FBI agent behind every mailbox. J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon, 1968 J. EDGAR HOOVER served as FBI director for nearly 50 years, and ran the office feudally, dictatorially; no one dared ask questions. His fear tactics were simple enough - he had files on just about everyone in public office. Even Nixon “was afraid of Hoover. He undoubtedly had the director’s April 1971 threat to blackmail him in mind in October 1971, when he said of Hoover, “We may have on our hands here a man who will pull down the temple with him, including me.” The hour of truth has arrived. -Muhammed Ali. The Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, as our burglars called themselves, picked an auspicious date to break into the FBI's offices in Media, PA. It was the night of the Fight of the Century, March 8th, 1971, the night Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier would come face to face at Madison Square Garden for the most anticipated heavyweight championship match in contemporary history. Ali, ragingly boastful and as blustery as a tornado, was just returning to the ring having been banned for refusing the U.S. army draft - a fine symbol for peace demonstrators should he conquer his opponent, Frazier, who supported the war. The burglars hoped that anyone in the vicinity- the police, the nightwatch, the residents in the building- would be distracted by the noise of the match from their TVs and radios... it was like taking candy from a kid. Not only were they right about the distraction, it wasn't difficult getting past a deadbolt and some heavy furniture barring the door, all made simpler still by the absence of an alarm system! Later, unloaded suitcases of files littered the floors of a farmhouse remotely removed from Philadelphia. Though what popped out revealed nothing that could threaten National Security (or shed light on what was hidden in Hoover's closet ), the undeniable truth of spying and intimidation of average Americans - that "agent behind every mailbox", breaches of privacy, corruption and abuses of power on a scale not fully understood yet - including the term COINTELPRO - stared back at the astonished perps. Copies of the stolen documents were mailed to selected journalists while a mad manhunt for the thieves was underway by the now- famously shamed law enforcement agents in the country. The thieves were never identified. COINTELPRO - X Files In 1956, Hoover implemented the COINTELPRO operations in heavy secrecy aimed at disrupting organized "New Left" activities, targeting such groups as the Civil Rights Movement, the NAACP, the American Indian Movement, the Women's Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, environmental and antiwar activists, to name a few. “he embarked on a veritable crusade.…Once an organization or activist … had been put into the category of a threat, they were pursued with a vengeance almost unknown in FBI annals. Their phones were tapped, their every movement watched in the hope that some basis could be found for charging them with a local or federal crime. The manpower assigned to such domestic intelligence was sometimes doubled, tripled or quadrupled—even at the expense of the bureau’s responsibilities for genuine counterintelligence efforts against foreign espionage—as the FBI pursued the director’s new public enemy number one.” One of the most horrendous agendas of COINTELPRO was the systematic harassment of Martin Luther King whom Hoover considered “an instrument in the hands of subversive forces seeking to undermine our nation....a demagogue who should be displaced by the bureau as leader of the civil rights movement," and in the weeks just prior to his scheduled acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, attempted to blackmail him into committing suicide. "Activists in these organizations," Hoover instructed, “must not only be contained but must be neutralized." Conspiracy theory, anyone? Betty Medsger was one of the original journalists to whom the FBI files were mailed, and the only one who didn't send them back to the FBI, but who chose instead to publish knowledge of them. Her research, along with the burglars' confessions decades later, bring to light the egregious constitutional breaches perpetrated by the FBI and sanctioned by the government; a story which remains eye-openingly relevant as I pen this review, on another auspicious day, dedicated to Martin Luther King 1/16/2017.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    In this high-impact book, Betty Medsger thoroughly explores a 1971 break-in of a small FBI office that turned the entire Agency and its most prominent director, J. Edgar Hoover, on their heads. When a small group decided to undertake a break-in of the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office to protest the power and corrupt nature of the Agency, no one knew what they were going to find. Thoroughly planning and casing the offices, this small group planned and prepared, hoping to make a statement by stealin In this high-impact book, Betty Medsger thoroughly explores a 1971 break-in of a small FBI office that turned the entire Agency and its most prominent director, J. Edgar Hoover, on their heads. When a small group decided to undertake a break-in of the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office to protest the power and corrupt nature of the Agency, no one knew what they were going to find. Thoroughly planning and casing the offices, this small group planned and prepared, hoping to make a statement by stealing some of the files and making sure they were handed over for publication. After undertaking an almost flawless break-in during a seminal sporting event, the burglary took in an interesting turn when the group stole most of the files from the office. These files included scathing memos, written by FBI Director Hoover himself, about secret missions the Agency had been undertaking for decades, including secret blackmail files on numerous people of notoriety, suppression techniques the Agency would take against various protestors, and an all-out heightened campaign of racial inequality, including coordinated acts to ensure civil liberties were not supported in America’s South. The group chose specific media outlets—including the author—and high-ranking politicians, in hopes of revealing some of the horrible missions Hoover sponsored or encouraged. It sought also to shed a strong light on the antics being undertaken by various US Administrations to suppress dissident groups, sometimes devised by Hoover and foisted upon the Attorney General and President (likely through blackmail). When media outlets began buzzing with the news (and presenting some of it to its readers), Hoover turned to rounding them up by putting all available resources into identifying the burglars. Additionally, sure the perpetrators came from a select group, he undertook a sting operation at a draft office and had many protestors arrested for crimes committed there, sure that people would leak what they knew. Unable to stand by and watch, Congress undertook its own investigation, culminating in the Church Committee, which sought not only to examine the severity of the information found in the memos, but to rewrite the covert nature of America’s various intelligence agencies. This may have been the most damning part of the entire fallout. During the latter portion of the book, Medsger explores these burglars, none of whom were ever identified during the five years the FBI sought to find them, before the statute of limitations expired. She offers up biographical and follow-up information to show that these people were more than simply vigilantes seeking to smear the Agency at a time when government resistance was at its height. With the Vietnam War in full swing, the country was almost unrecognisable and those seeking to speak out were often muted or violently suppressed. Unveiling some of the horrible, government-sanctioned means of silencing the protestors shows the lengths to which the US Government would go to push its plans forward, even when the majority felt diametrically opposed to the actions of their elected officials. A stellar piece of work that many with a keen interest in American politics and intelligence gathering will find enlightening. I know I was blown away with what I learned throughout. It can be effectively argued that the Media, Pennsylvania burglary was a turning point in American intelligence and the iron grip that Hoover held over the FBI. Medsger does a great job in not only arguing this point throughout, but is able to substantiate it with countless examples. In an era when directors of the FBI fall as swiftly as a tweet does off the fingers of the ignorant, it is almost impossible to think of someone at the helm of American Intelligence capable not only of securing his job for decades, but to keep his superiors in line through blackmail. It is also quite unfathomable to think that the modern American would rise up and protest as vehemently as took place back in the late 1960s and early 70s, the central time period of this book. While some may say that the burglary was an act of defiance against the US Government, it was surely more than that, as Medsger elucidates throughout. It tore the veil off major Intelligence gathering and dissemination for a number of decades. The fallout of these revelations, beginning with the Church Committee, started an era whereby the citizens of the United States were no longer overtly targeted by their own government for dissent, but it also weakened the ability of such agencies as the FBI, NSA, and CIA to gather and effectively act on intel without oversight or limitations. Medsger strongly argues that this double-edged sword reared its head in the latter part of the 1970s and into the Reagan Administration, which blatantly removed the leash from most agencies. For the casual reader, such as myself, that may not have as dire an impact as those who are in the trenches (or live in the United States), but it does pose an interesting question: how much freedom should a government have to act covertly to gather intelligence? I choose not to enter that debate here, though Medsger does use September 11, 2001 as an intriguing litmus test. Whatever the reader feels, it is worth noting that the actions of a handful of amateur burglars who sought to engage in a form of protest brought the first FBI Director significant shame (albeit posthumously) and the entire Agency running for cover. While I am not one to condone smarmy intelligence gathering to silence those in positions of power, what might things be like nowadays if the FBI had some concrete intel on recent men who have been POTUS? Let that one stew for a while! Kudos, Madam Medsger, for a brilliant piece of work. I am happy to have been directed towards your book when recent a recent account of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination. So many wonderful piece of information that came from those years in American politics! Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I feel deeply conflicted about this book. It's an important book that raises deeply unsettling, important questions about liberty, resistance, privacy, and the nature of government. That said, Medsger's writing left me frustrated and annoyed. I've rarely encountered a book as desperately in need of an editor as The Burglary. Not only does the published book (from Knopf, no less) have typos in it, there are some grammatical errors and awkward (though not incorrect) sentences. It is also over 500 I feel deeply conflicted about this book. It's an important book that raises deeply unsettling, important questions about liberty, resistance, privacy, and the nature of government. That said, Medsger's writing left me frustrated and annoyed. I've rarely encountered a book as desperately in need of an editor as The Burglary. Not only does the published book (from Knopf, no less) have typos in it, there are some grammatical errors and awkward (though not incorrect) sentences. It is also over 500 pages long-- much longer than needed-- because there is a substantial amount of repetition and "filler" material. These limitations to the writing are doubly a shame because the story of the Media, PA burglary and the resulting changes to the FBI is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s. Medsger's book blends biographies of the people who participated in the burglary with a broad history of the FBI from its creation through 9/11 and the Edward Snowden-NSA leaks. The book is absolutely at its strongest when she writes about the burglary, her own history at the Washington Post, and the overall concept of "resistance" as it was understood in the 1960s-1970s. Medsger's deep knowledge of the Catholic Peace Movement and Philadelphia-area peace activists makes these portions of the book especially interesting. Unfortunately, Medsger did not confine her work to the burglary and the period of reforms it ushered in. The last section of the book pivots to the 9/11-era FBI and NSA. While the issues raised by the Media, PA burglary obviously relate to Manning and Snowden's leaks, Medsger fails to directly compare the issues. At best, she alludes to the acts of resistance by Snowden and Manning without really delving into them. As a result, these portions of the book feel shallow-- almost as though Medsger backed away from the really juicy aspects of resistance in the digital age. Left unanswered, too, is the question of "getting caught." Medsger approves of what the Media, PA burglars did-- but is part of that success the result of not getting caught? She acknowledges the difficulty that each burglar had with keeping their action a secret (emotional, personal, and political). However, she does not address why secrecy offers a kind of protective shield not afforded to, say, Edward Snowden. I think this would bother me less if the book did not close with a lengthy (though, again, fairly shallow) discussion of the NSA. This is a story worth reading. I felt inspired by the Media, PA resistors and awed at the kinds of risks they accepted. Their actions forced me to think about the limits of dissent, resistance, and law. Medsger's book is frustrating. Ultimately, though, the importance of the story outweighed my own frustration with the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    A frustrating and ultimately very disappointing book. One would think the story of a group of anti-Vietnam War activists breaking into an FBI office, stealing top secret files, disseminating them to the press and exposing the dark underbelly of J Edgar Hoover's bureaucracy would be an engaging and even gripping read. Unfortunately this is not the case with "The Burglary". The narrative here - to put it mildly - is jumbled, full of digressions - many of which are inane and superfluous - and meande A frustrating and ultimately very disappointing book. One would think the story of a group of anti-Vietnam War activists breaking into an FBI office, stealing top secret files, disseminating them to the press and exposing the dark underbelly of J Edgar Hoover's bureaucracy would be an engaging and even gripping read. Unfortunately this is not the case with "The Burglary". The narrative here - to put it mildly - is jumbled, full of digressions - many of which are inane and superfluous - and meandering back stories which completely obscure the chronology and thus detract from the story itself. Historical anecdotes/tidbits - FDR & Hoover, the Church Committee - are dealt with superficially. The story also becomes mind numbingly repetitive as the narrative threads are continually pulled back together. An interesting/important story that doesn't get its due here. Pass on this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Saunders

    Betty Medsger's The Burglary explores one of the most successful acts of civil disobedience in American history: the March 8, 1971 break-in at an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. Never officially solved, its perpetrators located documents exposing J. Edgar Hoover's long history of abusing power, spying on American citizens and working to undermine political enemies, media critics and liberal, progressive and radical groups deemed "subversive." Medsger, one of several journalists to receive the Betty Medsger's The Burglary explores one of the most successful acts of civil disobedience in American history: the March 8, 1971 break-in at an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. Never officially solved, its perpetrators located documents exposing J. Edgar Hoover's long history of abusing power, spying on American citizens and working to undermine political enemies, media critics and liberal, progressive and radical groups deemed "subversive." Medsger, one of several journalists to receive the leaked files in 1971, convinces several of the burglars to go on the record, after decades of concealing their identities. They're a collection of white, comfortably middle class Americans, most with families at the time of the break-in; some were veterans of the Civil Rights Movement and protested the Vietnam War, yet were still a decidedly far cry from the long-haired hippies, black militants and bomb-throwing radicals associated with the era's protests. Admittedly, it's not the easiest book for a casual read: the organization is somewhat haphazard, veering from a narrative account of the break-in and the Bureau's response to a look at some of the more damning COINTELPRO files and profiles of the participants. All the same, it's another reminder that for much of its history, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was more tool of state repression than crime fighting agency - and an appreciation that very ordinary Americans can, indeed, strike a blow for truth.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Its early spring of 1971 and a group of activist are fed up with how Hoover and his FBI henchmen violating the civil rights of America’s citizens. They decide to do something about it. After careful planning they break into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and steal a bunch of classified files. They copy them and send them out to various journalists at newspapers across the nation in hopes that the information will be disseminated. Writer and journalist Betty Medsger is one of the first reci Its early spring of 1971 and a group of activist are fed up with how Hoover and his FBI henchmen violating the civil rights of America’s citizens. They decide to do something about it. After careful planning they break into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and steal a bunch of classified files. They copy them and send them out to various journalists at newspapers across the nation in hopes that the information will be disseminated. Writer and journalist Betty Medsger is one of the first recipients of some of these documents and she literally can’t believe what she is reading. When Hoover is informed about the breach of security he’s put on notice that his activities are no longer secret. Medsger definitely has a bias but in fairness the fact that Hoover was able to do whatever he wanted in complete secrecy for over 50 years with virtually no oversight is appalling. If you’re like me as you read this book you’ll be shaking your head in disbelief that he was able to do this…and for such a long time. His most egregious ‘program’s’ were fueled by his racial hatred of immigrants and minorities, especially African Americans, and towards any people or groups that he deemed not sufficiently American. His definition of American was anyone who disagreed with his narrow stance. This included activists, intellectuals of any kind, visual artists and writers, anyone who belonged to a political party or group other than the Republican or Democrat parties. Medsger is a wonderful writer. She writes with passion and clarity yet interweaves a vast amount of information including how this group of activists blew Hoover’s cover as well as the politicians and the political climate that protected him for so long. The exposure of Nixon’s Watergate occurs soon after the FBI break in which adds another layer to this story. Medsger provides a summary of Hoover’s career in a chapter called ‘Questions’ wherein she walks us through how he came to power and the influences that led to the consolidation of his reign. Chilling. Medsger’s book makes me sincerely hope we’ve learned some vital lessons about secrecy and power and the need for oversight in our institutions.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    A couple of weeks ago in between airplane changes I caught a brief glimpse of a TV interview of some sort and heard the words "FBI office," "70s" and "burglary," and I mentally promised myself I'd check on whatever that might have been when I had some free time. When I finally got the chance, I put those exact words into google and came up with The Burglary, by Betty Medsger. Looking at the synopsis, I knew I absolutely had to read this book. Now that I've finished it, I'm recommending it to eve A couple of weeks ago in between airplane changes I caught a brief glimpse of a TV interview of some sort and heard the words "FBI office," "70s" and "burglary," and I mentally promised myself I'd check on whatever that might have been when I had some free time. When I finally got the chance, I put those exact words into google and came up with The Burglary, by Betty Medsger. Looking at the synopsis, I knew I absolutely had to read this book. Now that I've finished it, I'm recommending it to everyone. It's that good. And, with the exposure of the NSA's surveillance on ordinary American citizens that's been on people's minds lately, it's also appropriately timely. It's not that J. Edgar Hoover's abuses of power have been a secret up until the publication of this book; au contraire: there have been several very good books published by credible authors on just how far reaching those abuses have been, as well as a number of documentaries about the same. However, if you're thinking that this is just another book out to trash J.Edgar Hoover, so why bother, think again. Ms. Medsger starts her work from an entirely different place. Her focus is on how the burglary of the files from a small FBI station in Media, Pennsylvania committed by a small group of nonviolent, antiwar activists led to the "opening of the door" of J. Edgar Hoover's "Secret FBI." It was through the theft and then publication of most of these files (the ones containing ongoing "real" criminal investigations were not publicized) that the public got its first glimpse of how Hoover and his agents were actively violating the constitutional rights of American citizens through surveillance, "dirty tricks," and other less than above-board measures. These files revealed that "...there were two FBIs -- the public FBI Americans revered as their protector from crime, arbiter of values, and defender of citizens' liberties, and the Secret FBI. This FBI...usurped citizens' liberties, treated black citizens as if they were a danger to society, and used deception, disinformation and violence as tools to harass, damage, and -- most important -- silence people whose political opinions the director opposed," and revealed an FBI that was "obsessed with monitoring what seemed to be, in many cases, lawful dissent." The publication of the information discovered in these files, aside from revealing a "government agency, once the object of universal respect and awe," that had for years been "reaching out with tentacles to get a grasp on, or lead into, virtually every part of American society," also became the catalyst for the first-ever real investigation into the activities of the Bureau and more pointedly, those of its Director; the revelation of just what the FBI with its squeaky-clean image was really up to also started the first national dialogue regarding the fine line between domestic intelligence vs. civil liberties in the context of a free and democratic society. If you're at all interested, you can find the full thrust of what I have to say about this book here on the nonfiction page of my reading journal; if you don't want to read the long version, just hear me out on this point: it's a book that despite its nearly 600 pages, reads extremely quickly and packs a big wham!throughout. It's also one I HIGHLY recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    The Burglary is a detailed, thorough, and utterly absorbing account of what had been a largely forgotten event. Before Edward Snowden, before Wikileaks or the Pentagon Papers or the Watergate scandal, peace activists broke into the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office in 1971, stealing virtually every file and finding proof that J. Edgar Hoover’s organization was aggressively working to demoralize, discredit, and break up legal citizen groups involved in the antiwar and civil rights movements. The sco The Burglary is a detailed, thorough, and utterly absorbing account of what had been a largely forgotten event. Before Edward Snowden, before Wikileaks or the Pentagon Papers or the Watergate scandal, peace activists broke into the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office in 1971, stealing virtually every file and finding proof that J. Edgar Hoover’s organization was aggressively working to demoralize, discredit, and break up legal citizen groups involved in the antiwar and civil rights movements. The scope was staggering. Every black student organization in the country was actively under suspicion, for instance, and every African American attending nearby Swarthmore College was monitored. The revelations shocked the nation, and The Burglary vividly brings to light the agitated and highly polarized culture of the American Vietnam War era. It’s a time and event I have reason to remember well. Media, PA is my hometown, I was a high school student when the burglary was executed, and people I knew discovered that the local FBI office kept files on them. Though now overshadowed by other events, the Media, PA burglary has had long lasting reform and oversight consequences which this book recounts in documented detail. Despite a massive FBI investigation the burglars were never caught and until very recently they never revealed their identities. For me, the most transfixing part of The Burglary tells the burglars’ varied, fascinating and often moving stories, before, during, and after the carefully planned but still terrifying heist that kept them on their guard for years. The burglars were a diverse group, including a physics professor, a daycare director, and a taxi driver. One college age member of the group who’d dropped out of school to do what he could to stop the war trained himself to be an expert lock picker, then was young enough to be at loose ends and have to reinvent his life once they’d achieved their immediate goal. A married couple committed to ending the war had to think long and hard about what would happen to their young children if they were arrested, but once the burglary was over their daily family and job responsibilities helped them cope with the aftermath. It’s a long book covering a number of aspects including the controlling mindset of Hoover’s FBI, the pains Hoover took to keep its illegal activities secret, the fervid but fruitless FBI investigation of the Media burglary, and the far reaching effects the burglary has had to this day. A final chapter considers the events of 1971 as they relate to post 9/11 surveillance activities and the Edward Snowden NSA files controversy. Parts of the book read like a thriller, but this is a thriller with substance. Riveting, instructive and unsettling, The Burglary reanimated the zeitgeist and events of 1971 for me and it leaves me with a lot to think about.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    No. I'm sorry, the writing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Craddock

    J. Edgar who? The year is 1971 and a group of anti Vietnam War activists formulate an audacious plan: Break into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and steal the files that they hope will prove that J. Edgar Hoover is operating outside the law in his efforts to suppress dissent and illegally targeting anyone whose opinions he doesn't like. What they find surprises even them. Betty Medsger was a reporter for the Washington Post who received copies of the files. One of the most shocking revelation J. Edgar who? The year is 1971 and a group of anti Vietnam War activists formulate an audacious plan: Break into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and steal the files that they hope will prove that J. Edgar Hoover is operating outside the law in his efforts to suppress dissent and illegally targeting anyone whose opinions he doesn't like. What they find surprises even them. Betty Medsger was a reporter for the Washington Post who received copies of the files. One of the most shocking revelations was that Hoover maintained a list of dissidents he planned to arrest and hold without a writ of habeas corpus in the event of a national emergency. Another was a secret program called COINTELPRO. Medsger sets the stage, describing how issues like the war and civil rights were tearing our country apart, when for instance, construction workers went on a rampage in New York injuring scores of students and protesters, and then were never charged with anything, but instead, the leader of the mob was rewarded with a high paying job by then President Richard Milhous Nixon. She tells about the burglars, at least most of them, who agreed to release their names now that the statute of limitations has run out and most would agree that their whistle blowing put a stop to an out-of-control FBI director who was violating the constitutional rights of our citizens. She describes the FBI, their response to the burglary and their futile attempts to apprehend those responsible. And finally, she tells of the consequences of revealing what was in those files. With the recent interest in the NSA and their spying on U.S. citizens, this book could not be more timely. It is all very matter-of-fact, as Betty Medsger lays out truth, not sounding like a whacky conspiracy theorist or a fanatic, but a clear eyed historian and journalist. It is really a fascinating story and had a great impact on history, even though few noticed it at the time. Medsger steers clear of some of the more salacious speculations about Hoover's personal life or lack thereof, but there are plenty of hard facts that are just as shocking as some of the rumors that have circulated. She sheds light on the complex relationship between Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover. Nixon publicly praised Hoover but feared and disliked him. The reason was not because of the things Hoover was doing, but because Hoover would not let Nixon use the FBI as his own personal secret police, and instead he had to form his own group of "Plumbers" to carry out The President's agenda. Nixon would soon face his own scandals. Interesting fact revealed by this book was that Mark Felt, who would latter tip off some other Washington Post journalists as "Deep Throat" was actually high up in the FBI hierarchy and was even in charge of the Media, Pennsylvania Burglary investigation. The FBI and Hoover had a great image at the time but what was really going on was secret police enforcing a police state. This is a very revealing book that tells what was really going on. Though the need for National Security is important, we should not sacrifice the principles of liberty and civil rights promised by our constitution to achieve it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Janette

    A disappointing read...great topic, but poorly written.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Clif

    Edward Snowden is rightfully praised for being a true patriot. He openly gave up the life he had in order to inform Americans of the latest attempt by their government to secretly spy on them, disregarding the Constitution. His situation is unique in that he made no attempt to hide what he did, correctly believing that if he did not leave the country he would be captured and muted. More typically, someone who wants to get secret information out will leak it anonymously as Daniel Ellsberg did, risk Edward Snowden is rightfully praised for being a true patriot. He openly gave up the life he had in order to inform Americans of the latest attempt by their government to secretly spy on them, disregarding the Constitution. His situation is unique in that he made no attempt to hide what he did, correctly believing that if he did not leave the country he would be captured and muted. More typically, someone who wants to get secret information out will leak it anonymously as Daniel Ellsberg did, risking discovery but hoping against it. This book is about something quite different - a plan by ordinary citizens to penetrate a government agency, take documents and then reveal them in the hope, not certainty, that those documents would reveal wrongdoing...and getting away with it. Such a plan has risks far beyond that of whistle-blowing from the inside. Most people would think it a crazy idea but with the burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania in 1971, it worked. Author Betty Medsger was one of the people who received the stolen files, working at the Washington Post at the time (1971). Because those who burglarized the office swore each other to secrecy for life, even she might not have known who they were if not for a chance remark to her during dinner conversation with two of the burglars. Medsger takes the ball and runs the entire length of the field with it, not only telling the personal stories of each of the burglars, but also of the planning and execution of the break-in and a very thorough account of the FBI malpractices that the released files broke open. Do you like crime stories? Personal stories? Adventures? Mysteries? This book has some of each. It turns out that the FBI had every one of the burglars on its list of suspects for the break-in, at one point or another, even interviewing some of them, and yet it never arrested any of them, thought J. Edgar Hoover made solving the burglary top priority. This book is confirmation of the fact that nothing happens cleanly. Every human endeavor is filled with chance and luck. There is no way to predict exactly how plans will work out. Even the most painstaking research and careful procedures can be made moot by someone forgetting his car keys and going back unexpectedly to the office, for example. The Burglary follows all the twists and turns of luck and happenstance, allowing the reader to join the burglars on their roller coaster emotional ride through the act and the years after, that started so casually from the question posed to a few Vietnam War resisters: "what do you think about burglarizing an FBI office?" The middle third of the book puts aside the burglary itself and concentrates, comprehensively, on the voluminous misdeeds of J. Edgar Hoover and his personal corps of thousands of agents whose primary job was to work Hoover's will on his victims. His victims were many and ranged from elected officials in Washington to ordinary citizens whose actions as free citizens were not acceptable to him. It was so maniacal and petty at the same time - if you were seen glancing to the left, you were a communist! It's estimated that 40% of the FBI files were notes on political suspects, not criminals or suspects in any crime. This book is important in that it shows the reader the problem it documents - abuse of government authority and the ability to keep things secret from the public - is cyclical and always works in the same way. Some national event like a war or 9/11, frightens people and gives the government carte blanche to overlook the Constitution. Officials are terrified of being blamed if something bad were to happen and go overboard enacting legislation that would never get passed in "normal times", such as the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or the Patriot Act. Then, the nation suffers under heavy handed government until fear subsides, overcome by indignation and outrage over what are the inevitable consequences of unrestrained power. Reform comes with revelation, the nation thinks all is well, and then the next fear engendering event happens and it all starts again. For the period about which this book was written, the Vietnam War was the catalyst, but prior to that it was the Communist menace and as I write it is the threat of terrorism. The lesson I took from The Burglary is that this cycle cannot be avoided, only restrained by courageous people. It was because of this successful little burglary in a small town that the wall of secrecy built by J. Edgar Hoover was cracked and the public glimpsed the almost psychotic operations going on behind. The phrase attributed to that aw shucks guy and good friend of Hoover, Ronald Reagan, "trust, but verify" is never more important than with our own government. It is impossible to accomplish when everything is hidden from the citizenry. Yet, as this book also shows, nothing can be kept secret indefinitely. Hoover's success at it for fifty years will, I hope, stand as a record. Thank you, Edward Snowden.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dannie

    I couldn't put it down. Government overreach that violates civil rights (fundamental human rights) is a very serious crime against human dignity. Serious good reading. In the kindle version the notes are not accessible from the body of the text, but the text is linked to from the notes. It would be desirable that the publisher fix this problem with an update.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I couldn't finish it - the story is great and important but the writing... the writing is horrid!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book is about an important and inspiring event but its excessive length is impossible to overlook. In 1970, a small group of antiwar activists around Philadelphia come up with the daring idea of burglarizing a satellite FBI office in Media to discover whether the FBI is monitoring antiwar groups. Not only do they pull off the crime without being caught, they also find their evidence. Their releases of documents in 1970-71 blow open the FBI's secret practices and dirty tricks and radically ch This book is about an important and inspiring event but its excessive length is impossible to overlook. In 1970, a small group of antiwar activists around Philadelphia come up with the daring idea of burglarizing a satellite FBI office in Media to discover whether the FBI is monitoring antiwar groups. Not only do they pull off the crime without being caught, they also find their evidence. Their releases of documents in 1970-71 blow open the FBI's secret practices and dirty tricks and radically change public opinion. Medsger was a young reporter with whom they anonymously shared the documents and the person to whom they reveal themselves, years later. The story of the burglary is thrilling and inspiring--to consider how these ordinary professors, parents, social workers, and students decided what needed to be done, steeled themselves to do it, and carried it out successfully despite a few terrifying hitches in their plan. The author also quite vividly evokes the turbulence of the time. But, as most of the other reviews here point out, the book is extremely long and tends to harp on the same points (for example, how hard it was for the Raineses to contemplate being arrested and separated from their children) at great length and in no particular order. I'm not even sure the editor could've helped much here; it's one thing to trim a book 15-20% when it has a chapter or two that is extraneous, and another thing entirely when every paragraph and chapter is 15-20% too long. Unfortunately this flaw makes me say "worth a look" instead of "everyone run out and read this."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    Forty-some years ago, physics professor and anti-war activist Brad Donovan posed a question to a group of his fellow activists: "What do you think of burglarizing an FBI office?" His friends weren't the criminal type. They were colleagues in academe, social workers, daycare providers, husbands, wives, parents -- in other words, average Americans. As the Vietnam war dragged on, Donovan and other activists had begun to suspect that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was overstepping its bounds and trampling peo Forty-some years ago, physics professor and anti-war activist Brad Donovan posed a question to a group of his fellow activists: "What do you think of burglarizing an FBI office?" His friends weren't the criminal type. They were colleagues in academe, social workers, daycare providers, husbands, wives, parents -- in other words, average Americans. As the Vietnam war dragged on, Donovan and other activists had begun to suspect that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was overstepping its bounds and trampling people's rights in a bid to quash anti-war dissent. If this were true, Donovan felt that the FBI was perpetrating a crime against democracy. After lengthy discussion, a group of eight people decided to break into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and steal documents to study for evidence that the FBI was illegally spying on the American public. This book is an account of the March 8, 1971 burglary, the people who perpetrated it and what they discovered from the documents they stole. Not only that, but the author broadens her scope to illustrate how acts like this began to change how Americans viewed their government, supplanting blind faith with well-founded suspicion. Shortly thereafter, the infamous Watergate break-in sealed that metamorphosis forever. Even though I'm an avid reader of Watergate histories and have lived in the Philadelphia area for many years, I had never heard of this burglary. It was fascinating to note the many connections between the two break-ins. As just one example, W. Mark Felt, the famed Watergate confidential source "Deep Throat," plays a role as head of the FBI's Inspection Division in investigating (and perhaps obscuring the facts of) the Media break-in. Most fascinating to me was the author's comprehensive look into the emotional and psychological impact the burglary had on the group of activists. Although they successfully pulled it off and were never identified (until now), the burglary weighed heavily on their minds in the months and years that followed, even after the five-year statute of limitations ran out. The author, Betty Medsger, who covered the break-in as a reporter for the Washington Post, tracked each of them down and convinced them to come forward for this book. Hers is a monumental achievement of journalism.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Drick

    On March 8, 1971, eight ordinary citizens broke into the FBI office in Media, PA and stole all the files inthe office. Their action was organized by William Davidon, a physics professor from Haverford College, who was strongly suspicious that the FBI was infiltrating and undermining the anti- Vietnam war movement. When they began to go through the files they not only discovered Davidon's suspicions to be true, but they uncovered J. Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO program in which thousands of ordinary On March 8, 1971, eight ordinary citizens broke into the FBI office in Media, PA and stole all the files inthe office. Their action was organized by William Davidon, a physics professor from Haverford College, who was strongly suspicious that the FBI was infiltrating and undermining the anti- Vietnam war movement. When they began to go through the files they not only discovered Davidon's suspicions to be true, but they uncovered J. Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO program in which thousands of ordinary citizens were being spied on by the FBI. This book tells the story of the robbery, the people involved and the wide-ranging impact it had on citizen awareness of intelligence intrusion into their everyday lives. This break-in was the 1971 equivalent of the Edward Snowden tapes of the 21st century. While the book relates in detail the process by which the robbery occurred, better than half of the book is dedicated to J. Edgar Hoover's secret surveillance of ordinary Americans and his ironclad grip on the U.S. government for nearly 40 years. While a fascinating read, the book is also a reminder that there are always people in government who assume they know best and will flagrantly break the law in pursuit of their own version of government. Moreover, the book ends with a sobering reminder that the blatant disregard for First Amendment rights that was revealed by the 1971 FBI break-in is still occurring today largely unabated. A great companion to the book is the documentary "1971" which one can stream on Netflix, and which re-enacts the burglary in fascinating detail as well as interviewing some of the participants

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nene La Beet

    A most necessary book, this one. In 1971, 8 peace activists broke into a small FBI office and stole all their records. They sorted through them in a remote summer house and then sent selected files to the press and to members of congress and senate. The reason they did the break-in in the first place was because they strongly suspected that the FBI were dabbling in several illegal procedures such as surveillance without warrants, threats and intimidation. As it turned out, their suspicions were n A most necessary book, this one. In 1971, 8 peace activists broke into a small FBI office and stole all their records. They sorted through them in a remote summer house and then sent selected files to the press and to members of congress and senate. The reason they did the break-in in the first place was because they strongly suspected that the FBI were dabbling in several illegal procedures such as surveillance without warrants, threats and intimidation. As it turned out, their suspicions were not just confirmed, but surpassed. During the long, long reign of J. Edgar Hoover the FBI did unspeakable things and luckily these were exposed by the burglars and the further exposure of FBI that followed. The first 2/3 of the book reads almost as a thriller - and unbelievably, the burglars were never caught. As their "crime" can no longer be prosecuted, the author, Washington Post journalist Betty Medsger, were able to hunt them down and get them to talk. The last part of the book tells about previous and later exposures of government institutions misusing the trust of the public. Unfortunately, as we know, this keeps happening! Review in Danish on my blog, http://labeet.dk/boeger/overvaagning-...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Abandoned reading this about half-way through. It's a fascinating event, but this book is tedious and plodding. It feels like it needed a better editor.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    After reading this book, I feel like the FBI/CIA/NSA probably have me on a list of all the people who bought this book or checked it out from the library.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Midwest Geek

    This is an important book, with five-star content diminished by the presentation, as pointed out by many other goodreaders, especially by Ashley. The first half or so is excellent, as it describes the people and events leading up to the burglary of the FBI office in Media, PA. This reads almost like a thriller. The second half however is rather meandering and repetitious. The burglary was organized by a physics professor at Haverford College, Bill Davidon, and carried out by him and seven other This is an important book, with five-star content diminished by the presentation, as pointed out by many other goodreaders, especially by Ashley. The first half or so is excellent, as it describes the people and events leading up to the burglary of the FBI office in Media, PA. This reads almost like a thriller. The second half however is rather meandering and repetitious. The burglary was organized by a physics professor at Haverford College, Bill Davidon, and carried out by him and seven other collaborators, a group that called itself the “Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI.” The release of the stolen documents not only led to confirmation of illegal surveillance of the antiwar movement by the FBI, but also indirectly led to the discovery of the broader set of COINTELPRO initiatives carried out by the FBI. These disclosures eventually led to to a sea-change in Congressional oversight of the FBI in the 1970’s. The burglars were never identified and had agreed to take their secret to their graves. However, for several reasons, in 2014, all but two decided to make public their participation, since they were no longer in danger of being arrested and the statute of limitations had long run out. There is a good film adaptation called simply “1971” by Johanna Hamilton that provides a summary of the book. (It can be obtained on DVD from Netflix or streamed from youtube, taken from a PBS prsentation entitled the “Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI: 1971.”) The documentary is fairly faithful to the book, although I was initially confused by the mix of historical footage and reinactments of some scenes described in the book. It is a pity that it was created in 2014, a year after Bill Davidon died. The lead commentary is by his friends John and Bonnie Raines, a courageous couple who played key roles in the Citizen’s Commission. (There are BTW some excellent wikipedia articles about these people and their activities.) The movie begins with a portrayal of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s as well as the anti-Vietnam-war movement. It is important to appreciate the social and political context in which the burglary was carried out. (I was in my 20’s at the time.) I also felt that Medsger could have given more space to the writings that provided inspiration to the persistant rumors concerning Herbert Hoover’s running of the FBI, especially reporter Jack Nelson of the LA Times and commentary by Fred J. Cook in The Nation magazine. Cook published a relatively little known book The FBI Nobody Knows in 1964. The burglary also provided inspiration to Rex Stout’s 41st episode of the Nero Wolfe mysteries, The Doorbell Rang, published in 1965. (See the comments in the review by Karl.) Since the events of 9/11, the passage of the "Patriot Act," and the emergence of the NSA, government monitoring of citizens and legal residents remains an important issue today. There are also the controversial tactics of the current POTUS and his allies. This book remains relevant and timely.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Szatkowski

    The book begs the question 'who watches the watchers?' This is ever the ethical and practical question for a free people. The author examines how one group of people responded to that question in 1971. The actions the FBI then are sobering. We should ask ourselves as a society, and as individuals, what do we do to protect our society? How can we bring in sunlight to it, which as Justice Brandeis noted, is the best disinfectant.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Very interesting but troubling read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Havel

    Great book! Very readable. The only book I have read that shows the FBI can be deceived.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Could not stop reading this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Every once in a while I get into a mood to read a political book. This one has been on my list as it is about the CIA and Hoover. It started off really interesting and then just started getting too bogged down with events and straying away from the primary event. I lost steam half way through and just started passively reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    MattandCathy Brandley

    Very informative I learned a lot about that time in our history

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    The burglary tells the history of the Media break in that stole FBI files and exposed the "secret FBI" that had spied on Americans for decades. A group of catholic peace activists (many of whom had participated in the draft raids) broke into FBI offices in Media Pennsylvania stealing hundreds of files on how the FBI was intimidating and coercing the peace movement. The break in was expertly planned and the building cased over the course of months. The burglars swore themselves to secrecy and kep The burglary tells the history of the Media break in that stole FBI files and exposed the "secret FBI" that had spied on Americans for decades. A group of catholic peace activists (many of whom had participated in the draft raids) broke into FBI offices in Media Pennsylvania stealing hundreds of files on how the FBI was intimidating and coercing the peace movement. The break in was expertly planned and the building cased over the course of months. The burglars swore themselves to secrecy and kept that secret for many years. J. Edgar Hoover is a constant villain in the book who is hounding the nation and the burglars around every corner. While the book does aim to expose the flaws and violations that Hoover committed during his time it also strips him of the credit for taking on organized crime and seems to indicate that rather than fight organized crime Hoover spent all his time spying on peace activists and blacks. The book also covers the reform efforts of the committees that looked into the FBI after it was exposed from the release of the files. Overall this book is incredibly detailed spanning almost 600 pages and seeks to idolize the burglars as unsung heroes who shed light on the American public to save itself from the "Secret FBI". The book is very interesting and really tells an inside account of how this amazing feat was planned and executed. The demonic portrait of Hoover and the Nixon administration is a little over the top at times but does not detract from the story. Given the recent controversy of the NSA and Snowden this is a fascinating read of American's who committed a similar act only did not get caught.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Wrote a review, lost it, and weeks later still haven’t mustered the energy to compose it again. So, in short: – Great, pivotal, necessary story, but also hampered somewhat by the repetitive style in which Medsger wrote it. – Absolutely benefitted from reading All The President’s Men first, because it not only gave me a reference point for the Washington Post narrative but it had many of the players in common (including Mark Felt, who is here as Mark Felt, not Deep Throat). – It’s why I have, u Wrote a review, lost it, and weeks later still haven’t mustered the energy to compose it again. So, in short: – Great, pivotal, necessary story, but also hampered somewhat by the repetitive style in which Medsger wrote it. – Absolutely benefitted from reading All The President’s Men first, because it not only gave me a reference point for the Washington Post narrative but it had many of the players in common (including Mark Felt, who is here as Mark Felt, not Deep Throat). – It’s why I have, up to this point, sworn off biographies of Hoover. Haven’t been ready for the full picture of his 40-year reign as megalomaniacal dictator. – Which, you have to admit, is pretty impressive to pull off in a democratic government. No wonder we’re still reeling from the effects of it decades later. From here, onwards, upwards (or is that downwards?) to read Daniel Ellsberg on the Pentagon Papers. “The spying constituted harassment, invasion of privacy, and violation of the right to dissent, but it had little or no connection to effective law enforcement or intelligence gathering— the important and only official missions of the FBI. [Whatever the FBI was doing as it invaded lives,] it neither safeguarded civil liberties or protected Americans from violence.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Kirk

    A great book, well researched. A burglary, "break-in" of the FBI office in Media (everybody's hometown and now mine). FBI files that were taken, copied and sent to the news media, The Washington Post, in particular, were the first insights into the inner workings of the FBI. A side of the FBI that J. Edgar Hoover wanted to keep secret. The "burglars" took great risks such as imprisonment, not being able to see their children, etc. but they believed in their cause. How they managed to "break-in" a A great book, well researched. A burglary, "break-in" of the FBI office in Media (everybody's hometown and now mine). FBI files that were taken, copied and sent to the news media, The Washington Post, in particular, were the first insights into the inner workings of the FBI. A side of the FBI that J. Edgar Hoover wanted to keep secret. The "burglars" took great risks such as imprisonment, not being able to see their children, etc. but they believed in their cause. How they managed to "break-in" and current events before, during and after the burglary were described and all in all, made for an interesting story.

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