For nearly a half-century, J. Edgar Hoover was director of the FBI or its precursor. A rabid anti-Communist now known for his own law-breaking — specifically, for his secret surveillance of American citizens — he is often caricatured as a bulldog.
But in her new biography “G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century” (Viking), Yale historian Beverly Gage reveals new information about the legendary government man (“G-man’) and portrays him as a complicated person, one full of contradictions. Her talk will examine the controversial life and times of Hoover and place him back where he once stood in American political history—not at the fringes, but at the center—using his story to explain the trajectories of governance, policing, race, ideology, political culture, and federal power as they evolved over the course of the 20th century.
The book was listed among the top 10 books of 2022 by the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Publishers Weekly, and was on The New York Times’ list of the 100 best books of 2022. The New Yorker chose it as one of its 24 “Essential Reads” of 2022.