"The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI" (Encore presentation.)

Feb 19, 2015

(Note: This show originally aired in November.) Our guest is Betty Medsger, an author and former journalist whose latest book, "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI," is now out in paperback. As a critic for The Wall Street Journal has noted, this is "an important work, the definitive treatment of an unprecedented and largely forgotten 'act of resistance' that revealed shocking official criminality in postwar America. One need not endorse break-ins as a form of protest to welcome this deeply researched account of the burglary at Media, Penn. Ms. Medsger's reporting skill and lifelong determination enabled her to do what Hoover's FBI could not: solve the crime and answer to history." And further, per Booklist: "In 1971, somebody burgled an FBI office in Pennsylvania, stole secret files, and sent them to journalists. One of the recipients, Medsger revisits the story because she has discovered who the burglars were (the FBI never identified them). Organized by a college teacher, they were a small group of academics and students whose act Medsger recounts with sympathy for their audacity and antiwar motivations. In discursive detail, Medsger recounts the protester-burglars' movements, from casing the building to publicizing the purloined documents (with interludes of their worries about their fates if caught), and follows the course of the futile FBI investigation into the caper. Besides dramatizing the incident, Medsger pursues its historical significance -- the documents' revelation of extensive domestic surveillance by the FBI -- into the congressional investigations of the 1970s. Medsger also discusses J. Edgar Hoover's appointment in 1924 and NSA activities in the present.... This work encapsulates an important event of interest to readers of the history of the antiwar movement."