Library Journal, May 2, 2007.

Library Journal, May 3, 2007.


Ackerman, Kenneth D. Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties. Carroll & Graf. Jun. 2007. c.496p. photogs.

bibliog. index. ISBN 0-7867-1775-0 [ISBN 978-0-78671-775-0].$28.95.


Ackerman (Boss Tweed) recounts the aggrandizing role that J. Edgar Hoover played regarding the Palmer raids against suspected Communists and Socialists thought to be the source of various domestic bomb attacks after World War I. As Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s assistant and chief of the new General Intelligence Division at the Department of Justice, Hoover demonstrated his talent for gathering and filing information on private individuals, over 10,000 of whom were later arrested and charged with treason. Initially, the Palmer raids proved popular with the public, but press accounts of prisoner abuse (and some resulting suicides) brought public criticism. Clarence Darrow’s unsuccessful defense of 21 members of the Communist Labor Party in 1920 turned debate to the topic of free speech. By then, Hoover had successfully distanced himself from Palmer. Ackerman’s account draws on archival sources, government reports, and period press pieces as well as secondary sources. Although these events occurred nearly 90 years ago, they resonate today, as Ackerman makes clear. The young Hoover has some responsibility for the survival of this kind of political treatment of suspected enemies of the state. Recommended for all libraries.-Stephen Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg