Keeping America Safe for Democracy

Modern Knight ErrantJ. Edgar Hoover, Modern Knight Errant
Houghton Comfort

Submitter: I’m happy to say that this book is no longer in our academic library, though it is in other public and academic libraries according to WorldCat.  It almost reads as though it is supposed to be a juvenile book, but it was in our main collection.  Unfortunately, book tape over the spine obscures what was probably a wonderful picture of a knight on the cover. My favorite part was the lists of disasters that could happen to you and how fingerprint files would fix them.  Plus, the statement that “only a criminal” wouldn’t want to send their fingerprints to the FBI for storage.

Holly: I can hear it now: “But it’s historical!” Yes. It is. It is so historical, in fact, that it has earned its place in an archive or museum. If it is being held together by book tape and prayer AND it is more than 50 years old AND you can find a ton of information about the subject elsewhere, it’s ok to weed it. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! This one hits all three of those criteria.





Our set of values for juveniles




  1. Totally worth keeping for a historical archive. I love books that explain how J. Edgar Hoover and Herb Philbrick (I Led Three Lives) are keeping the Communists from murdering us in our beds. But yes, not exactly general-use material now.

  2. And how would they be able to USE those fingerprints in any sort of timely manner? Before computers and email, etc. it is not likely they could have retrieved and matched anything quickly enough to help the poor old lady. And would the relative’s address even have been in her record? No, fingerprints would not have been a solution to any civilian problem where time was important. Curious about “One Set of Values for Juveniles” — one set for them and another for the rest of us? Are juveniles going to be held to higher or lower standards? I think this is a terrible piece of condescending overreaching jingoism, and really outdated even for 1959. “The best any American boy and girl can do to help J. Edgar Hoover and the G-Men…” — snort! My 1959 (child) self would have had the same reaction. Best thing about the book is the knight’s horse!

  3. LOL the same old “nothing to hide nothing to fear” BS….of course it is outdated, people are valuing their privacy more now even if they aren’t one of the more-than-3% breaking the law.

  4. The reality is that J. Edgar Hoover was, by modern standards, a paranoid-delusional egomaniac with a flair for self-promotion and scare propaganda. I have seen several books over the years about the FBI aimed at the juvenile market from the Hoover era, and it becomes plain to see that they were cobbled together with the covert or overt input of Hoover, possibly at Hoover’s own insistence or worse, to promote not only the FBI but also himself as some “Great Savior and Protector” of The American Way, Mom, baseball, apple pie, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness……… I’m certainly no anti-authoritarian type that believes all police are out to get me or that the government is out to destroy my civil liberties at every turn, but even a loyal Rush Limbaugh listener would have to concede that Hoover’s shtick was over the top, wretchedly overwrought, and bordered on paranoia.

    I definitely recall a couple similar books aimed at a more juvenile market in the 1950s and 1960s. I’m led to wonder if indeed there was some effort by Hoover to promote such glorifying FBI/Hoover propaganda, and how much of it survived purges of the 1970s and 1980s driven by both later revelations/allegations about Hoover’s personal life and the general “anti-establishment” swing of academia in the 1960s and since. (You think I’m exaggerating? Show me how many books on the FBI you have in school libraries and Young Adult collections now, let alone college libraries……)

    1. Hoover kept a tight control over bureau PR, not just to promote himself but to keep other agents from getting the spotlight. I would guess he was involved in a lot of such books, but it’s only a guess.

  5. According to writer Curt Gentry, Hoover was a bigot who not only hated Jews and African-Americans, he also COULD NOT stand the British, French, Dutch OR Australians!

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