363: Puppetmaster by Richard Hack

by Gerard


363.25092: Hack, Richard. Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Hills, CA: New Millennium Press, 2004. 407 pp. ISBN 1-893224-87-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 360: Social problems, services, and associations
  • 363: Other social problems and services
  • 363.2: Police services
  • 363.25: Detection of crime
  • +092: Biography

There are about as many myths about J. Edgar Hoover as there are truths. While head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1935 to 1972, there were stories of homosexual trysts with his assistant director Clyde Tolson and that he routinely wore women’s clothing. While these are rumors just the same, they linger in the national psyche. Richard Hack’s Puppetmaster tries to get a more complete picture of the man behind one of the nation’s largest investigative groups.

While most of the information presented in Puppetmaster is good and interesting, the writing is simple and clunky. Hack goes off on too many tangents and includes too many minors details for the history to matter. To be fair, he has gathered a great deal of information about the life of J. Edgar Hoover and how he came to lead the nation’s police force for the better part of five decades. He dispels many of the popular rumors as meager and unsubstantiated, and tries to get to the meat of the story. Unfortunately, he misses the mark. This is a good starter biography, but I’m sure there are other better ones out there.