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The Doorbell Rang: A Critique of Hoovers FBI - Essay Example

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In the research paper “The Doorbell Rang: A Critique of Hoover’s FBI” the author discusses the plot of The Doorbell Rang, which deals with the said government abuse courtesy of the FBI and Hoover. The FBI placed Stout under watch and built a dossier…
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The Doorbell Rang: A Critique of Hoovers FBI
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The Doorbell Rang: A Critique of Hoovers FBI

Download file to see previous pages... The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout belongs to this category. When it first saw print, there were theories among the readers that Stout’s story was actually based on the experiences of real people. The truth, however, is that Stout never insisted that it was. The reason why many continue to think so is that the book was published at a time when the Federal Bureau of Investigation headed by J. Edgar Hoover was being heavily criticized for abuse. The plot of The Doorbell Rang deals with the said government abuse courtesy of the FBI and Hoover. It is apparent that while Stout is a writer of fictional crime novels, the current condition of American society at that time when he wrote The Doorbell Rang greatly shaped his ideas. Indeed, the plot of the novel is no longer just the usual formula of Nero Wolfe, a private investigator, solving the crime. It is about his hero’s attempt to give justice to the victim of government abuse. Of course, before it could pursue the essence of the plot, which is how Wolf and his assistant, Archie, tried to achieve their client’s request, it first has to put the focus on the said abuses of the FBI. As expected, Hoover reacted in a negative manner and sought ways to minimize the impact that the books would be creating. The FBI placed Stout under watch and built a dossier. The US Senate’s Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations later in the mid-1970s exposed this, mentioning that the FBI memorandum described the book as having a “presented a highly distorted and most unfavorable picture of the Bureau” (1976). Aside from the fact that this was a violation of Stout’s privacy, the action by the FBI in response to the book was an affront to his freedom of expression. Why would an established crime and mystery writer like Rex Stout dare to have a book published that dealt with government abuse, particularly those committed by the FBI? As a writer, Stout has the choice to write about such issue or not. However, there were external conditions that did prompt him to write a novel that is critical of Hoover and the FBI. Before The Doorbell Rang was published, a non-fiction book, The FBI Nobody Knows, written by Fred J. Cook came out. An investigative reporter, Cook presented to the public cases in which Hoover’s FBI committed unjust and even illegal methods that curtail the rights of individuals simply because they had been suspected of having links with the state’s perceived enemies. The book was not just based on mere hearsays; in fact, Cook cited the testimonies of FBI agents who were still in active service but had become disillusioned with the decisions of their superiors concerning the subjects for surveillance or for proactive measures. In response to the exposes that Cook had written in the book, the FBI made attempts to lessen the effect of the book on the public. As a result, the public reception of Cook’s book was not very warm. There were quarters who believed that Cook merely sensationalized the issue. However, even as “Cook’s publication received a muted reception, it signaled a progressive erosion of public confidence in the bureau” (Jeffreys-Jones 2007, p. 176). This means that the public did not immediately rise in an uproar over the exposes presented by Cook but they did begin to open their minds to the possibility that the Hoover-led FBI was indeed violating civil and human rights in its desire to beat perceived enemies.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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