FBI (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Sanford J. Ungar intended to produce with this enormously detailed book the first objective look inside the FBI by an outsider. If, finally, his view of this vast organization is not entirely objective, nevertheless it is fascinating and illuminating, and, perhaps, as objective as any such book ever could be, for the Bureau, as created and developed by J. Edgar Hoover, was not and still cannot be calculated to inspire objectivity. This massive volume is valuable for many reasons, not the least of which is its painstaking analysis of the schizophrenic nature of the great federal agency: rigid, dutiful, admired on the one hand and insidious, toadying, and distrusted on the other. Applying to the FBI the same crisp prose and diligent reporting that he displays in the Atlantic Monthly, of which he is the Washington editor, Ungar has produced an exhaustive work on the Bureau. He explores its role and performance as well as its devoted servants past and present, from the lowly clerks to the agents and heroes to the imperious dictator, the late J. Edgar Hoover. Ungar’s effort is not without flaws, but his achievement is surprisingly sensitive and very impressive.
Ungar began his task of writing about the FBI with the purpose of producing neither a piece of propaganda nor a brief for dismantling the FBI. In the past, he writes, books about the FBI tended to be admiring panegyrics to the glory of the agency and J. Edgar Hoover or to be muckraking...
(The entire section is 1556 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Book World. May 14, 1976, p. 7.
National Observer. XV, April 24, 1976, p. 25.
National Review. XXVIII, June 25, 1976, p. 693.
New Yorker. LII, May 3, 1976.
Newsweek. LXXXVII, March 29, 1976, p. 92.
Progressive. XL, September, 1976, p. 61.
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