Breaking and Entering

My latest, an expansion upon something noted here a couple weeks ago, has been published at
It begins:

Before Daniel Ellsberg, before Edward Snowden, were the Media burglars. On March 8, 1971, eight non-violent, anti-war activists broke into the FBI’s Media, Pennsylvania office and walked out with its files. Over the next two months, they released portions to members of Congress and the press. Revelations in these documents led to a wrenching rethinking of the role of investigative agencies in a democracy, a reform (some would insert a prefatory “insufficient”) of their practices, and an unmasking of J. Edgar Hoover’s, the FBI’s director for 48-years, as a (some would also say) corrupt, deceitful, law-breaking, bullying, homicidal paranoid. Which proved insufficient to strike his name from the bureau’s national headquarters.

I finished…

…”The Burglary,” by Betty Medsger, an account of the 1971 break-in of the FBI office in Media, PA, by a team of anti-war activists, who made away with suitcases full of documents, which they release — before Ellsberg, before Snowden — to members of the press. These documents led to the discovery of the FBI’s secret, decades-long, illegal, nay, felonious — arguably (on occasion) murderous — campaign against those of whom its untouchable, though megalomaniacal — arguably insane — director J. Edgar Hoover disapproved. The burglars were never caught, not for want of effort on the part of the FBI, which went to massive — if frequently inept — efforts to do so. And until Medsger’s book, there identities were never known.

They turned out to be ordinary people — just like you and me — only, in unfathomable ways — better.

I wish Medsger had spent more of her time “fathoming,” but that wasn’t in her game plan. I could have done with more focus on the subject of the book’s title — the burglary — and the burglars and less on the subsequent history of the FBI and government surveillance, which I can just hear some editor or marketing specialist suggesting should be tacked on for “relevance’; but that’s just me and my preferences. It’s a great story about people before whom one stands in awe.