The FBI: A History

December 1, 2020
The FBI: A History

This "penetrating and remarkable history of the FBI"examines its operations and development from the Reconstruction erato the 9/11 attacks (M. J. Heale, author of McCarthy'sAmericans).In The FBI, U.S. intelligence expert RhodriJeffreys-Jones presents the first comprehensive portrait of thevast, powerful, and sometimes bitterly criticized Americaninstitution. Setting the bureau's story in the context of Americanhistory, he challenges conventional narratives—including the commonmisconception that traces the origin of the bureau to 1908.Instead, Jeffreys-Jones locates the FBI's true beginnings in the1870s, when Congress acted in response to the Ku Klux Klan campaignof terror against black American voters.The FBI derives its character and significance from its originalmission of combating domestic terrorism. The author traces theevolution of that mission into the twenty-first century, making anumber of surprising observations along the way: that the role ofJ. Edgar Hoover has been exaggerated and the importance ofattorneys general underestimated; that splittingcounterintelligence between the FBI and the CIA in 1947 was amistake; and that xenophobia impaired the bureau's preemptiveanti-terrorist powers before and after 9/11.