This in not just another biography! The Publisher sent me a copy of Young J. Edgar to read and perhaps review. I was somewhat skeptical that this was going to slant one way or another politically. Political creatures usually take these biographies on and focus on their love or hatred for the subject.
Author, Kenneth D. Ackerman has the really Liberal credentials as a career Beltway insider. He gives us the story of Hoover right up the middle. Ackerman exposes both the genius of Hoover along with his public power abuses.
Ackerman readily concedes that Hoover may well have been acting from a sincere desire to protect America from a very real threat by the Red Menace. Hoover was obsessed with investigating not just the people he suspected of disloyalty and treason but their friends, associates and relatives too.
Hoover went after all the Leftist Sacred Cows such as Martin Luther King like an avenging angel. Of course all of Hoover’s excesses and outrageous civil rights violations never caught up with him as Hoover proved to be perhaps one of the savviest survivors in American history.
The surprise with Ken Ackerman is that he is a rare find, a true intellectually honest Liberal. He is a civil Libertarian who is not afraid of the truth.
Biographers are the trustees of characters’ reputations. Here Ackerman proved he is trustworthy. No matter how the reader feels about Hoover you have to admire Ackerman’s attention to detail, solid research and above all his objectiveness.
Ackerman sees all the same signs of Hoover’s abuses in the Patriot Act and other fallout of the post 9/11 era. History repeats itself and any real democracy is always fragile.
Terrorism is certainly nothing new in America, nor the overzealous efforts to contain it to the determent of the freedoms and liberty that make America great. The balance between liberty and security will probably never be perfect. Young J. Edgar is a must read for any student of government, history or law enforcement buffs.
I was partially through the book when, I learned that Ackerman was part of, The Los Angeles Festival of Books appearing with an absolute smorgasbord of great contemporary authors at The UCLA Campus. I couldn’t miss tracking Ackerman down for a lively and delightful half-hour interview and discussion. This is one I think my readers will enjoy.