A fascinating and timely biography of J. Edgar Hoover from a Sibert Medalist.
"King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. . . . You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
Dr. Martin Luther King received this demand in an anonymous letter in 1964. He believed that the letter was telling him to commit suicide. Who wrote this anonymous letter? The FBI. And the man behind it all was J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI's first director. In this unsparing exploration of one of the most powerful Americans of the twentieth century, accomplished historian Marc Aronson unmasks the man behind the Bureau- his tangled family history and personal relationships; his own need for secrecy, deceit, and control; and the broad trends in American society that shaped his world. Hoover may have given America the security it wanted, but the secrets he knew gave him
— and the Bureau — all the power he wanted. Using photographs, cartoons, movie posters, and FBI transcripts, Master of Deceit gives readers the necessary evidence to make their own conclusions. Here is a book about the twentieth century that blazes with questions and insights about our choices in the twenty-first.
Back matter includes an epilogue, an author’s note, source notes, and a bibliography.
About the Author
Marc Aronson is living proof of the magic of the world of writing books for young readers. He did not expect this to be his career—he went to New York University, where he earned a doctorate in American history, and worked in adult reference publishing. But when he saw an advertisement for an editor of a series of books about the lands and peoples of the world (The Portraits of the Nations series, originally published by Lippencott)—books he had grown up reading and loving—he applied for and won the job. Working on books for young people—and then meeting other authors and artists, reviewers, librarians, teachers—he found he was in a world he loved. Editing books about different nations, peoples, and cultures, he came to realize he wanted to publish fiction and poetry, as well as nonfiction for young people. He created Edge—a place for books that explored all of the borders and boundaries in growing up, from immigration to coming-of-age. He then began to write his own books.
Marc’s older son once asked him why his first book, Art Attack, was so different from the others. It is the one book he has written about art; all the others in some way relate to history or current events. In a way he experienced in nonfiction what many novelists go through: his first book was the most autobiographical. Marc grew up learning about radical art, avant-garde art, from his father, who was a painter and innovative scenic designer. The book was a form of passing on what he had learned. While all of his books are nonfiction, they all also have a personal dimension—a way that person, subject, idea, spoke to him. Marc grew up in a school where many families had suffered from the Red Scare, a school devoted to racial integration when that was the law, but often not the practice. Master of Deceit is, in a way, Marc visiting his own childhood and looking at the conflicts he grew up hearing about with his trained adult eyes.
Marc now wears many hats, he is part of the graduate faculty in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, where he trains librarians and teachers in using books with K–12 readers. He gives talks in schools to students, trains teachers and librarians—especially on the new Common Core standards, and he is exploring how nonfiction can flourish in the world of e-books and apps. For example, for Master of Deceit, he has found a film, You Can’t Get Away With It, that was crafted for J. Edgar Hoover and fits perfectly with chapter 7 (you can see the original poster for it on page 62). You can see the entire film for free by going to his website, www.marcaronson.com, where he also has a discussion guide for the book and other resources.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Aronson uses Hoover and his work at the FBI as a lens to view America from the 1920s-1960s and the themes he develops can clearly be used to view post 9/11 America. The country's history and the decisions those in power have made are complex and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Aronson offers multiple reads of history and doesn't shy away from difficult realities as those writing for young adults do sometimes. As I as reading and learning, the text prompted me to think about the story being told about history as it is influenced by who is doing the telling and the ways that we look at the past through the lens of the present. I'm anxious to take a look at this book when it is out in print. I had a pre-pub ebook which didn't have all the pictures and the layout wasn't set. The book definitely inspired me to do further reading and research.
Description: Master of Deceit is a detailed account of the life, times, and "crimes" of J. Edgar Hoover from the 1920's to the 1960's. Special attention is given to Hoover's creation and directing of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as his impact on the future of the United States.Review: High school U.S. History classes definitely left out a few facts about J. Edgar Hoover - at least mine did. What I already knew: Hoover created the FBI; what I didn't know: he ran the FBI - or variants of it - from the presidency of Coolidge (1924) through Nixon (1972), and during that time was known to use illegal methods to gain information. Master of Deceit is an eye-opener and an excellent research resource into the life and career of Hoover and his organization. Marc Aronson has written a biography full of fascinating facts and stories supplemented with over 100 images. I like the format, the short chapters, the large array of images, and the overall set-up/timeline. At ~230 pages, it is long enough to convey all the facts in an interesting manner, but short enough to encourage reading and comprehension. It's easy-to-read, fast-paced, and has a really great notes section and bibliography; I especially liked reading the author's note about his extensive research. I learned a lot of surprising information, particularly about political figures, but Aronson's goals are clear - as stated in the epilogue, "Master of Deceit shows that we must always question both the heroes we favor and the enemies we hate. We must remain openminded..." There is always more than one side to every story, and the author's research is well documented. This book is directed towards teenagers, but I highly recommend this book to both teens and adults interested in Hoover or the FBI, or readers looking for their next non-fiction fix. This is also a great companion to the new movie J. Edgar, a film about Hoover's career.Rating: On the Run (4/5)*** I received this book from the author (Candlewick Press) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.