It is a story of primal politics and of revelations about the use and abuse of power that shaped our times. For instance:
* How Hoover got John F' Kennedy transferred from the hotel rooms of Washington to a PT-boat in the Pacific.
* How Lyndon Johnson very nearly sent the U.S. Marines to "invade" Mississippi.
* How Hoover withheld news of the capture of James Earl Ray in order to release it during Robert Kennedy's funeral.
* How Hoover censured an agent who, in his job of answering fan letters, made a mistake in Hoover's popover recipe.
* How the FBI burglarized foreign embassies in Washington.
* Hoover's attempt to run for President of the United States.
* How Lyndon Johnson used the FBI as a personal political tool, going so far as to have FBI agents surveil Senator J. William Fulbright.
* Hoover's use of local police to form the basis of a national police force.
* The FBI's public relations mill and its control of the press.
* How the FBI used sexual entrapment in its espionage projects.
* Why Hoover refused to acknowledge the existence of the Mafia.
To be sure, many FBI personnel were hardworking and effective; much of their work was admirable, perfumed far from the bizarre world of Washington headquarters. In thirty years with the FBI, Sullivan grew to love this part of his work as he grew skeptical of the motives and actions of his director. As time went on, Sullivan came to feel, finally, that Hoover had done more "damage not only to national security intelligence operations, but to law enforcement in general than was ever done in the history of tbe country. It is nothing less than disastrous when yon have unlimited power married to gross incompetence, ignorance, and abnormality. "
Thus, although Sullivan had helped to build the myth of Hoover, he decided finally to attempt to bring Hoover down and to reform the FBI. The attempt failed. Hoover's forces were too powerful, too entrenched, and Hoover's files too potentially damaging. At Hoover's death in 1972, nothing had changed.
Until his own death in a hunting accident, just as he was finishing this book, William Sullivan pursued his vision of an FBI worthy of the country. His story will convince readers of that need. It will, further, shatter the myth that Hoover built for fifty years, the myth of the FBI as a kind of Praetorian moral guard, with Hoover himself as its patriotic and wise Caesar.