War on Crime: Bandits, G-Men, and the Politics of Mass Culture.

Author:Ferrall, Bard R.
Position:Review
 
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CLAIRE BOND POTTER, WAR ON CRIME: BANDITS, G-MEN, AND THE POLITICS OF MASS CULTURE (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998) 250 pp.

Most studies of the first decade of J. Edgar Hoover's directorship of the FBI fail to note the consonance of federal policing power in the early 1930's and the overall view of government embodied in the New Deal: that the exercise of governmental power was generally benevolent, and that federal intervention would revitalize, rather than undermine, local institutions. To avoid the mistakes of the first attempt at federal policing-- the Bureau of Prohibition--which ended in scandal and failure, Hoover determined, upon his appointment as director in 1924, that the FBI must be composed of professional agents of the highest character, and that the FBI's primary methods must be surveillance and the systemic collection of information. The author describes the appearance of a new type of criminal in the early 30's (bank robbers...

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