…”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.