Betty Medsger’s The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI was a thoroughly detailed and enjoyable read. Before Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, there was the Media Pennsylvania FBI office burglary. A small group of activists wanted to expose the truth behind J. Edgar Hoover and his secret illegal actions in the United States. The group planned a break-in of the offices to find the incriminating evidence and then exposed Hoover through the press. Betty Medsger was one of the journalists who received copies of the stolen files and then published articles on the findings. Many years later, she learned the identities of the people in the activist groups and was able to interview them bringing even more information to light.
This amazing book looks at not only how the activist group decided to commit the crime but how they carried it out, as well as the toll it took on many of them. Medsger examines the aftermath for the FBI and more importantly, the lengths which Hoover was willing to go to control citizens, congress and even the president. The amount of detail that Medsger includes is incredible. Most of the information I was unaware of or had forgotten. If you are an American History buff, this would be an excellent choice to read.
Candice Millard’s gripping biography Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President is an astounding read. This book documents the incredible life of President James Garfield. He rose up from poverty to become a scholar, a Civil War hero, a congressman, and finally president. Millard not only explores his life and assassination, but also the medical practices that occurred during that time period; all in all creating a fascinating read covering the late nineteen hundreds.
I loved how easy this book was to get into. Millard did such a marvelous job of taking a dry subject and making it interesting. There was so much knowledge included in the book, but I never felt bored or overwhelmed with the facts. Instead, I found myself eager to get home to finish reading it. I was also intrigued with Millard’s portrayal of Garfield’s assassin. She really attempted to show his perspective and reasoning as to why he attempted to murder the president, along with his descent into mental illness. I was also astounded by the medical sanitation, or complete lack thereof, at the time and general medical practices overall. Garfield’s death was not from the bullet lodged in him, but rather from the “medical care” he received. Needless to say, we have come along ways from those days of germs and dirt. This is a great book to read this fall and already a bestseller.