From the Pulitzer Prize winner author that brought us the brilliant history of the CIA – Legacy of Ashes – Tim Weiner this time has decided to tackle the FBI and the man synonymous with the institution. Taking us back to the beginning of the twentieth century and the Teddy Roosevelt administration as it struggled with the lack of intelligence both domestic and foreign available to it, from there we’re taken along the contours of American history we thought familiar, learning how the agency responded to hundreds of domestic terrorism episodes over the decades as they served different masters at the White House, and how that relationship could be highly contentious. Whether it was with the bureau’s longest standing director J. Edgar Hoover who proved unrelenting in his war against communism which made him completely prepared to skirt the law so long as it meant they were taking the war to the nation’s enemies, or the successive generations that followed who continued these practices believing them the only way to battle the new threats that were emerging, the FBI has long wrestled with these responsibilities and the nebulous legalities of their activities, having long received little official direction from Congress.
Enemies chronicles the century’s long tension that has existed within the American government between those who believe national security to be of paramount concern, with those that strove to protect civil liberties even if it meant risking that very security, and while it might seem like a lot to take on, Weiner is an artful storyteller who deftly walks you through the untold story of the FBI in this extremely well researched book compiled from the thousands of declassified documents and Hoover’s own notes. Certainly an interesting read and would definitely be time well spent.