Alien Ink: The Fbi's War on Freedom of Expression

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9780813519548: Alien Ink: The Fbi's War on Freedom of Expression
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A prize-winning poet and author of Savage Grace traces the FBI's history of treading on the first amendment with accounts of how the organization intimidated writers and hired librarians as spies. 25,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Richly researched broadside against the FBI's invasion of the rights of US writers to think for themselves; by the co-author of the Edgar-winning Savage Grace (1985). Aside from the 146 writers whose files were recovered from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act for use in this book, Robins lists even more whose files she did not get access to or who are not discussed here for lack of space. Files of living authors can be released only to the authors themselves, but Robins did write to many--such as Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, and Kay Boyle- -who had recovered their own files and who passed on to her their response to notes by FBI agents and informants. Judging from Robins's account, which covers the Bureau's snooping on writers and books--from John Reed and WW I through the recent campaign to access library rolls--the FBI seems full of idiots. As Murray Kempton says here: ``These files are so goddamn inept...You think of a lunatic sitting there and saying `off with their heads'--and there's no axe. I mean he presses this button and he says destroy this man's career and the career is not destroyed.'' As Robins reveals, the truth was that J. Edgar Hoover was leery of jabbing writers, who had such quick ways of fighting back in print--not that writers knew this, of course. Even the suggestion of FBI surveillance apparently had a chilling effect that dissuaded many from pursuing subjects sure to place them under even greater observation. Hoover, Robins says, ``tailored the meaning of the word alien to fit writer''--and ``most of the damage was invisible.'' Her story climaxes with the FBI's Library Awareness Program, which attempted to enlist librarians in informing on book borrowers--an act called by librarians ``an unconscionable invasion of the right of privacy....'' Noteworthy, but repetitive and rarely catching fire. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

There's nothing new in the fact that J. Edgar Hoover was paranoid and invasive of people's privacy, but Robins, author of the Edgar Award-winning true crime book Savage Grace ( LJ 7/85), adds a few more nails to the coffin as she provides exhaustive, often petty details of the files Hoover and the FBI kept on writers involved in any "suspect" activity. While Robins's research is admirable--much of the documentation is drawn from Freedom of Information Acts requests--her report lacks the compelling drama of Victor Navasky's National Book Award-winning Naming Names ( LJ 9/15/80). Still, librarians will be pleased to note that Robins includes the FBI's Library Awareness Program as part of the attack on freedom of expression, although she ends with the disturbing note that the program is probably still very much alive. Recommended for extensive collections on the FBI and 20th-century American writers.
- Judy Quinn, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780688068851: Alien Ink: The Fbi's War on Freedom of Expression

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ISBN 10:  0688068855 ISBN 13:  9780688068851
Publisher: William Morrow & Co, 1992
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