Between our 100 Notable Books and 10 Best Books lists, we at The New York Times Book Review have had enough to say about the year in books. (And our readers had a lot to say about both of those lists!) So, to end 2023, we reached out to a few people across our newsroom to find out what books — new and old — they most enjoyed reading this year.
Carolyn Ryan, managing editor
I usually prefer fiction, but Beverly Gage’s G-MAN: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century was a revelation. It takes you beyond J. Edgar Hoover to explore the historical and cultural forces that both shaped and bedeviled him.
Hard to believe it now, but for decades Hoover was one of the most admired men in America. He created the modern F.B.I. and much of what we recognize today as modern policing. He was also a shrewd student of bureaucratic power and a crafty practitioner of the early art of public relations, encouraging America’s worshipful view of law enforcement.
But this book uses the sweep of 20th-century American history — from the early anarchist era to the civil rights movement — to show how Hoover’s prejudices and obsessions ultimately undid him.
It is ambitious, detailed and absolutely riveting. And as much as it is a story about Hoover, it is also about the creation of an expansive and at times intrusive federal government, and the growth of Washington, D.C., from a sleepy segregationist town to the modern federal city of today.
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