Barnes & Noble
Young J. Edgar: Hoover, The Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties
Every now and then, the United States experiences times of panic and threat, when real danger can cause a just-as-real over-reaction placing the liberties of the people at risk. Such a time came after World War I: the Red Scare.
On June 2, 1919, bombs exploded simultaneously in nine American cities, including one that destroyed the home of the Attorney General of the United States, A. Mitchell Palmer, and nearly killed him. In the aftermath of World War I, America suddenly faced a new enemy—radical terrorism. Concerned that new American Communist parties threatened revolution, Palmer vowed a crackdown.
To lead it, he turned to his youngest assistant, J. Edgar Hoover, just twenty-four years old, who already made a name for himself as a zealous wartime bureaucrat. Now, under Palmer’s wing, Hoover helped execute a series of brutal nationwide raids, bursting into homes without warrants or warning, arresting over 10,000 Americans and assembling secret files on thousands of suspects and political enemies.
Amid the hysteria, the truth of the abuses emerged, prompting a backlash. A handful of lawyers like Clarence Darrow and future Supreme Court Justices Felix Frankfurter and Harlan Fisk Stone dared to defend accused radicals and challenge Palmer in the name of free speech and civil liberties. But as Palmer’s reputation fell, his young protégé Hoover survived the whirlwind to emerge as the most controversial American law enforcement figure of the Twentieth Century, a person uniquely praised, feared, and condemned. In 1924, he was asked to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a post he would hold for five decades until the day he died in 1972.
In Young J. Edgar, I have tried to bring to life the drama of Palmer’s raids and Hoover ’s coming of age in a narrative rife with modern overtones. Using the raids as a metaphor on post-9/11 America , Young J. Edgar reaches the heart of our current debate on personal freedoms in a time of war and fear.
Reviews of Young J. Edgar:
Joseph C. Goulden in The Washington Times, August 2007.
The Richmond Times Dispatch, July 2007.
“Junior G-Man,” Washington Post Book World, June 2007.
David M. Kinchen in Huntington News, June 2007.
“Another J. Edgar Hoover?” from Los Angeles Times, June 14, 2004.
Nicholas Von Hoffman, BookForum, June/July/Aug 2007
Ronald K.L. Collins, First Amendment Center, May 2007.
New York Sun, May 2007
FrontPageMagazine.com, May 2007.
Patricia Kushlia on “WhirledView” Blog, August 2007.
Jim Finley, “Bring It On” Blog, August 2007.
Tom Gordon, Tammy Swofford Blog, July 2007.
Matt Janovic, “7 to the Power of Seven” Blog, July 2007.
Library Journal, May 2, 2007.
Kirkus Reviews, advance review, April 15, 2007.
Publishers Weekly, advance review, April 2, 2007.