Beverly Gage’s new major biography of J. Edgar Hoover draws from classified sources to create a groundbreaking portrait of a colossus who dominated half a century of American history and planted the seeds for much of today’s conservative political landscape.
Now known as one of the greatest behemoths of the 20th century, Hoover was once regarded as the most influential and popular men in American politics and government. Hoover rose to power and then stayed there, decade after decade, using the tools of state to create a personal fiefdom unrivalled in U.S. history. He transformed a failing law-enforcement backwater, riddled with scandal, into a modern machine. He believed in the power of the federal government to do great things for the nation and its citizens. He also believed that certain people — many of them communists or racial minorities or both — did not deserve to be included in that American project.
Gage’s monumental work explores the full sweep of Hoover’s life and career, from his birth in 1895 to a modest Washington civil-service family through his death in 1972. In her nuanced and definitive account, Gage shows how Hoover was more than a one-dimensional tyrant and schemer who strong-armed the rest of the country into submission. G-Man places Hoover back where he once stood in American political history – not at the fringes, but at the center. This is a story that explains the trajectories of governance, policing, race, ideology, political culture and federal power as they evolved over the course of the 20th century.
(Winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Biography and Bancroft Prize)
John Lewis Gaddis Professor of History, Yale University
Mark Atwood Lawrence
Member, Board of Governors, CGC; Professor of History, The University of Texas, at Austin
René Cassin Chair of Human Rights Studies and Member, Board of Governors, CGC; Charles J. Stille Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University
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