As the world prepared for war in the 1930s, the United States
discovered that it faced the real threat of foreign spies stealing
military and industrial secrets-and that it had no established
means to combat them. Into that breach stepped J. Edgar Hoover and
Although the FBI's expanded role in World War II has been well
documented, few have examined the crucial period before Pearl
Harbor when the Bureau's powers secretly expanded to face the
developing international emergency. Former FBI agent Raymond
Batvinis now tells how the Bureau grew from a small law enforcement
unit into America's first organized counterespionage and
counterintelligence service. Batvinis examines the FBI's emerging
new roles during the two decades leading up to America's entry into
World War II to show how it cooperated and competed with other
federal agencies. He takes readers behind the scenes, as the State
Department and Hoover fought fiercely over the control of
counterintelligence, and tells how the agency combined its
crime-fighting expertise with its new wiretapping authority to spy
on foreign agents.
Based on newly declassified documents and interviews with former
agents, Batvinis's account reconstructs and greatly expands our
understanding of the FBI's achievements and failures during this
period. Among these were the Bureau's mishandling of the 1938
Rumrich/Griebl spy case, which Hoover slyly used to broaden his
agency's powers; its cracking of the Duquesne Espionage Case in
1941, which enabled Hoover to boost public and congressional
support to new heights; and its failure to understand the value of
Soviet agent Walter Krivitsky, which slowed Bureau efforts to
combat Soviet espionage in America.
In addition, Batvinis offers a new view of the relationship
between the FBI and the military, cites the crucial contributions
of British intelligence to the FBI's counterintelligence education,
and reveals the agency's ultra-secret role in mining financial
records for the Treasury Department. He also reviews the early days
of the top-secret Special Intelligence Service, which quietly
dispatched FBI agents posing as businessmen to South America to spy
on their governments.
With an insider's knowledge and a storyteller's skill, Batvinis
provides a page-turning history narrative that greatly revises our
views of the FBI--and also resonates powerfully with our own
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