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After taking on gangsters Hoover took on Communism and it seemed that he had the goods on everyone. Master of Deceit unveils what extremes Hoover went to stay on top and it also draws parallels between events during Hoovers reign and the current day. Jul 05, Penny Peck rated it it was amazing Shelves: In a complex book best-suited to high school students and even adults!

I think the book's focus on the bureau, and less on Hoover makes this best for the crime section and not the biography section of most libraries. I really appreciated the author's clear opinion that Hoover's ends did NOT justify his means, even if there were more Soviet spies than we would like to acknowledge. The author also refers the reader to specific f In a complex book best-suited to high school students and even adults! The author also refers the reader to specific films that can elaborate on the subject like George Clooney's "Good Night and Good Luck".

A great book for history fans, and those preparing for debates. Photos add interest and expand on the text, and there are source notes and an in-depth list of sources. Jul 12, Jean rated it really liked it. Interesting and thought provoking. Some of the asides aimed at making it appealing to teenage readers are a tad annoying to the general reader, but excellent annotated endnotes point that general reader in the direction of further reading. Sep 22, Sarah rated it liked it.

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I liked many things about this book, but had some reservations, which I describe here: Jun 04, Brandi rated it really liked it. The questions Aronson poses are perhaps even more relevant today than they were at the time of this writing. Here he has provided a well-researched, detailed look at the life of J. As always, Aronson practically forces the reader to engage in critical thinking.


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Jul 03, Stephanie rated it liked it. Rather didactic but interesting overview. Writing was about 8th grade level. Mar 18, Wendy Cato rated it it was amazing.

Age Of Deceit [#38]

Feeling anxious about the government? I know all about this history but I love the time period and was interested in how it would be rendered in a young adult book and whether it would show any bias, either way. This is a book about very bad people. First, communists, a political group of mass murderers who have killed more of their own people than any single tyrant has killed in wars or holocausts in the entire history of the world.

Second, a fanatic, a man who was an absolute fanatic and was given power, so much Reason for Reading: Second, a fanatic, a man who was an absolute fanatic and was given power, so much of it he became the most powerful man in America, in some decades even more so than the president. Aronson must be congratulated on presenting both sides of this coin as fairly as has ever been done in my reading. What writer can prove each side to be right without showing his own bias?

Aronson almost gets away with it. He explains the communist position on anti-capitalism and why it was attractive to working Americans and who could blame them and he'll make you get mad. Both opinions are expressed with such clarity on issue after issue throughout the entire book, but each time it is counteracted with the opposing view and Aronson leads a small trail of truth through the swampy history of lies. Aronson almost gets away with not being biased but he very early on lets the cat out of the bag that he, himself is coming from the "Left".

In the opening paragraph he states "Communism and anti-Communism are just terms that appear on tests, like the Whig, Greenback, or Know-Nothing parties. Has the author heard of China??? Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam?? The poor souls of these countries are fighting communism every day of their lives and being arrested, tortured and killed for anti-communist activities.

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Further on Aronson makes a blooper when he states "For years after the September 11, , attacks, Fox News ran alert levels on its TV crawlers, reminding everyone to be scared, to be afraid. I sure don't ever remember Fox News crawlers with the words "Be Scared. Anyway onto the book, which the author has stated in his notes at the end he has written for highschoolers. Great insight into this time period of our history. Into the terrible evils of Communism and what it does to people, their freedoms and abilities to simply lead basic normal lives.

It also brings out the life of J.

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Edgar Hoover, the fanatic. A man who had a sense of right and wrong but for whatever reasons he became fanatical about them. While some of the things he believed in were good and decent such as democracy, capitalism, taking care in one's appearance he took them to such heights he became a dictator in his own little world. He also became a tyrant and his sense of right and wrong became skewed and turned into racism and discrimination. Unfortunately, he had power, he had "the goods" illegally obtained on the right people and that kept him where he was and there he stayed until he died peacefully in his sleep after 40 years on the job.

Aronson is able to bring this side of Hoover to light while at the same time dispelling all the ludicrous myths that have perpetuated about him especially to the modern day, where most people believe them to be true. Hoover was not gay, he did not dress in women's clothing, he did not have a life long male partner as a "lover". The man probably never had sex in his life and this puts him in all sorts of situations that can be crassly misinterpreted to make him seem to be the one thing he was not. Aronson does explore the other rumour that Hoover may have had African-American blood in his family heritage and while not provable unless direct desendents step up to settle the issue once and for all, the author does make a case for it's possibility.

I enjoyed the book very much, read it over two sittings and found myself immersed in this frightening period of history. Communism was something to fear and it still is today. Freedom to live our lives as we see fit is one of our unalienable rights. However we should never fear anything so much that we allow one person to fantatically control how the issue is handled.

Every group or person in power must be policed by others. The only thing I didn't like about this book was Aronson's equating communism with civil rights with homosexuality with the women's movement. Sometimes we just morally know what is right and what is wrong and it has nothing to do with fear. I think I may have written an opinon piece on the topic instead of a review but at least I guess that means you can tell I enjoyed the book.

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I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the book to adults who know nothing of the topic. Sep 22, Christina rated it it was amazing Shelves: I didn't think a book about J. Beginning with the shocking blackmail letter sent to Martin Luther King Jr. The overriding theme is secrecy, how people have used it to control information, and obtain power over others.

The author deftly covers both liberal and conservative viewpoints when discussing American history, and talks about the attractions of Communism as well as its detractions to explain why Americans might have been drawn to it early on. I think the real value of this book is in the author's notes and bibliography at the end; he writes a interesting essay about his work on the book and his fears while writing it, and in the works cited list he doesn't just cite the source of a quotation, but also gives a little overview of the books he read and which ones would be most useful to students doing further research on certain topics.

I found that fascinating, to get a glimpse into how much work goes into the research for a book like this, and I liked how it sets the example for students that you can't just read one book, even a supposedly objective and factual nonfiction book, about a topic, and know the whole story. Good writing and an informed opinion requires lots of research and reading. But all that seriousness aside, this is a fascinating read! The writing style is clear and concise and it is well-illustrated with not just photos but some of Hoover's early FBI charts, and posters from G-Men movies and early FBI popular propaganda.

I liked the frequent asides referring readers to a particular film for a particular subject or person--for example, in the chapter discussing the rise of the American Communist Party and John Reed, it is suggested that readers watch the film "Reds"--which I thought was a great way to engage students and encourage further interest.

All of Hoover's life is discussed, as it all ties in with how inextricably linked he was to his work at the FBI, including current research and conclusions on his possible homosexuality and racism, etc. Again, Aronson is fairly objective and gives his reasons for his conclusions, always citing his sources.

An excellent book for anyone interested in American history. Aug 02, Barbara rated it it was amazing Shelves: I consider myself something of a history buff, and have always enjoyed reading about famous figures in history. Since I grew up during the s which part of this book covers, the name J. Edgar Hoover was one with which I was familiar. This book provides insight into this man who became so powerful and whose FBI also became so powerful that he could get away with keeping secret files, browbeating others, collecting information on those he feared, disliked, or suspected of harboring Communist sy I consider myself something of a history buff, and have always enjoyed reading about famous figures in history.

This book provides insight into this man who became so powerful and whose FBI also became so powerful that he could get away with keeping secret files, browbeating others, collecting information on those he feared, disliked, or suspected of harboring Communist sympathies. The book begins with a letter attempting to blackmail civil rights leader Martin Luther King and then briefly covers Hoover's childhood and rise to power over its eighteen chapters.

Along the way, he covers Joseph McCarthy's attempts to ferret out Communists in the motion picture industry, the Rosenbergs' trial and execution, and even the waterboard torture used by our government after the fall of the Twin Towers in order to gain information from someone accused of a crime. Although that practice can't be laid at Hoover's feet, he certainly created layers upon layers of secrecy and paranoia that allowed it to occur.

Clearly, Hoover was a master manipulator and skilled at self-promotion, and the author forms several conjectures about the motivations for the longtime FBI Director's own actions and his secrets, even addressing and shooting down rumors about Hoover's sexuality. But what is especially intriguing here is how deftly Aronson describes this nation during Hoover's reign and how inexorably he points out the link between the paranoia that gripped the nation during the Fifties and Sixties and the fear that panicked our government and citizenry after the events of September As he sifts through the past, he also explores our future as he ponders the price of secrecy and security and the dangers of blissful unawareness of the dangers that lie around us.

Questions Aronson raises that could be food for an entire semester of civics includes these: How far should our government be allowed to intrude in our lives in order to protect us? How might information obtained secretly be used against others? How thin is the line between gathering information and spying on one's fellow citizens? Finally, this thoroughly engaging book brings historical figures to life again, describing their personalities and character traits.

Hoover, for instance, is not painted solely with a black brush but with some attempt to understand his motivation and the times in which he lived. Readers will enjoy sifting through the photographs that fill the book's pages and relishing Aronson's description of his own research and writing process. This title is highly recommended, and prompted me to want to read even more about this ever-intriguing individual. Feb 27, Shayleigh Melgar rated it really liked it.

Jan 25, Allizabeth Collins rated it really liked it. Master of Deceit is a detailed account of the life, times, and "crimes" of J. Edgar Hoover from the 's to the '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: 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 images.

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 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. Oct 30, Courtney rated it it was amazing Shelves: The man who created the FBI and today's efficient crime fighting tactics? The man who made people feel safe and who cherished America? Or was he the man who broke the very laws that make up the country he loved? Better yet, was he the man who hated communism and Stalin so much, that he started to act like a radical himself?

Hoover served a long 40 year career "protecting" our country. Known for his detailed index cards that cataloged suspicious people and groups, Hoover a Who was J. Known for his detailed index cards that cataloged suspicious people and groups, Hoover approached rebellion and criminal activity with incredible organization. Hoover destabilized the Ku Klux Klan, but he also favored segregation and did his best to tear down Dr. He hated communism, and made it one of his career goals to eradicate it from Democratic America, but he invaded people's privacy and silenced their voices much like the failed Communist regimes he hated.

Perhaps there were serious threats to the nation from the 30's to 60's, and perhaps Hoover protected America from these threats, but at what cost? This biography is so compelling it reads like a detective novel. Aronson does a fabulous job of writing a non-fiction book with speculation that strives to look at all angles.


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He asks the questions that each side would ask, raises the arguments that each side would pose, and uses critical thinking and analysis of what is more so proven to be true. He debunks myths- no, there is no evidence that Hoover was a cross dresser- but also wonders why such rumors have come to the limelight. I consider myself a "reluctant non-fiction reader" and I could not put this one down.

Fans of Steve Sheinkin will surely enjoy this book. Mar 18, Monica Edinger rated it it was amazing. I'm old enough to remember J. Edgar Hoover and also old enough to want to forget all about him. However, young people are not me and so with a sigh I dutifully opened up Master of Deceit: Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies and was immediately gobsmacked by the start of the prologue: Martin Luther King Jr. With that Aronson had me and kept me until the end. Be I'm old enough to remember J. Beginning with the Russian Revolution and the rise of Hoover, moving on to the development of the FBI mystic, and on through wars of honor and stealth, Aronson weaves a tale that you absolutely could not make up.

With a clear and engaging voice he questions, probes, connects, and brings to light a remarkable time in American history. Enhancing the powerful text and imagery is the book's superb design: It is all and all an outstanding work of history for young people.

Jun 03, Handd51 rated it it was amazing. I picked this book up at TLA and finally opened it. It is fascinating - well researched, thoughtfully written and a spellbinding story. On the surface it is a biography of J. Edgar Hoover, but it is more a biography of the times he lived and influenced.

Aronson does a great job of simplifyiing the changing political winds of the various eras he oversaw, from s Prohibition through the McCarthy era. He offers perspectives on both sides of the curtain, from Hoover's perspective and from outsid I picked this book up at TLA and finally opened it. He offers perspectives on both sides of the curtain, from Hoover's perspective and from outside the FBI. He does an interesting job of showing where Hoover did the right things for the wrong reasons, and sometimes the right things for the right reasons - at the same time he shows what other influences were afoot at the time.

The Soviets did have spies in many places and the Left did not want to see the truth of that; but Hoover's impeccable records on any and everyone who had ever even leaned left put many innocent people at risk and in jail. Another bonus i the book is the essay Aronson includes at the back where he discusses his role as a historian, especially how difficult it can be to stand up for a new or unpopular interpretation of history.

The backmatter includes detailed notes on each chapter and many sources. High school students of this period - and many adults - will appreciate the depth and insight of the book. Jun 12, Julia rated it it was amazing Shelves: This was a fascinating slice of 20th century American history. It's central focus was on how those who keep secrets tend to deny truth - even if it's for the sake of security - and then can create a culture of lies. This is a well balanced account. In some places, it was very detailed, in others it seemed to move swiftly over events like World War 2.

Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies

It was best in it's analysis of what This was a fascinating slice of 20th century American history. It was best in it's analysis of what we can learn from the story of Hoover and his time leading the FBI. In fact, his admission that parts of the tale he discovered went against some of the conventional wisdom that he'd been believing, and how uncomfortable that made him, were, I think, extremely important. Aronson always does a great job of showing that a non fiction book doesn't just stand as "the facts" but represents the point of view of the author behind it.

Another amazing book from an amazing writer. Feb 26, Rebecca added it Shelves: Edgar Hoover and his political machinations. Chuck, a navel academy graduate and former Branch Chief of the Dept.

For twenty years Chuck balanced his high-profile corporate career with his teaching commitment to a weekly Bible study at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in Southern California. Chucks day of reckoning came several years ago when as a result of unforeseen circumstances, a business venture failed. The Misslers lost everything, including their home, automobiles and insurance. It was during this difficult time that Chuck turned to God and the Bible, and he and Nancy established Koinonia House in Over the years, Chuck developed a loyal following.

Koinonia House became Chuck's full-time profession.