The John and Linda Coker Lecture
We remember J. Edgar Hoover as a bulldog–squat frame, bulging wide-set eyes, fearsome jowls. But in 1924, when he became director of the FBI, he was the trim, dazzling wunderkind of the administrative state, buzzing with energy and big ideas for reform. He believed in the power of the federal government to do great things for the nation and its citizens. He also believed that certain people–many of them communists or racial minorities or both– did not deserve to be included in that American project. Hoover shaped the FBI with both ideas in mind, decade after decade, using the tools of state to create a personal fiefdom unrivaled in U.S. history.
Drawing on her new biography, G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century, Beverly Gage will explore the full sweep of Hoover’s life and career, from his birth in 1895 to a modest Washington civil-service family through his death in 1972 at the pinnacle of American power. In her nuanced and definitive portrait, Gage places Hoover back where he once stood in American political history–not at the fringes, but at the center–and uses his story to explain the trajectories of governance, policing, race, ideology, political culture, and federal power as they evolved over the course of the 20th century.
Speaker: Beverly Gage
Beverly Gage is professor of 20th-century U.S. history. Her courses focus on American politics, government, and social movements.
Her book G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century , a major new biography of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, will be released by Viking in November 2022. She is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in its First Age of Terror, which examined the history of terrorism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, focusing on the 1920 Wall Street bombing.
In addition to her teaching and research, Professor Gage writes for numerous journals and magazines, including The New Yorker, New York Times, and Washington Post.
In 2009, Professor Gage received the Sarai Ribicoff Award for teaching excellence in Yale College. In 2015, she was elected to serve as the first chair of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate. From 2017 to 2021, she served as director of Yale’s Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. In 2021, President Joe Biden nominated her to serve on the National Humanities Council, the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
With Professor Elizabeth Hinton, Professor Gage leads the Workshop in Modern U.S. History, a monthly speaker series for faculty and graduate students to discuss the latest scholarship in 20th-century U.S history.
Professor Gage is a graduate of Yale University (1994, BA, American Studies, magna cum laude) and Columbia University (2004, PhD, History).