This fast-paced account of the history of the FBI presents the first balanced and complete portrait of the powerful and oft-criticized institution. Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones offers a new take on the origins and mission of the bureau, the significance of J. Edgar Hoover’s term as director, the bureau’s pre-emptive anti-terrorist capabilities before and after 9/11, and more.
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Focuses on the bureacracy and not on the bureau
This audiobook is a serious and rather dry history of how the FBI evolved. It focuses much more on the political, strategic and legal frameworks which created and formed the bureau through its history. Issues are considered at very high level, only rarely illustrated with anecdotes at the street/law enforcement level.
There's some interesting stuff in the book and you leave it better informed and with a different perspective on the FBI - but it is hard work at times and not a pacy, true crime read like, say Homicide. Having said this I found the more recent history fairly engaging, so perhaps my lack of engagement with other sections of the book was due more to a lack of familiarity with the cast of characters than the content.
The reader is adequate but prone to repeated basic errors (i.e. reading 'character' for 'charter') which tends to distract.
Lukewarm on Events
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones' study of FBI history leaves much to be desired. The text approaches the FBI's most recognizable episodes in a fairly cursory manner, treating the Bureau's war against organized crime, seperatist militias and religious cults, counterterrorism and counter-espionage as the background to the author's central theme: race.
As such, the book emerges principally as a study of the Bureau's often slow progress in diversifying its workforce in order to meet diverse threats.
Points of strength: exploration of FBI leadership and the role of the Attorney General, study of the Bureau's relationship with other intelligence agencies, and effective review of the Bureau's swings from popularity to notoriety and back again throughout the past 100 years.
2 people found this helpful
A Lightweight Read
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
It becomes most obvious right at the outset that the author has an agenda. So what the unsuspecting buyer gets is a rambling effort to present the agenda rather than a genuine historical critique of the FBI.
There are a number of books available tempered pro and con toward the FBI all of which deal with the Bureau's history in a far superior manner than does this read.
What was most disappointing about Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones’s story?
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
disappointment (at having wasted good money)