Fighting crime became part of FDR’s administration in the same spirit as fighting soil erosion and unemployment. And of all the alphabet agencies of the New Deal, none captured the public’s imagination and loyalty like J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. (Teddy Roosevelt had established the Bureau of Investigation in 1908, but it didn’t become the modern crime fighting bureau until the 30’s.)
In the depression, the success or failure of the government in fighting crime took on mythical proportions. Every major crime and successful gangster seemed to test whether the nation would survive. The crime problem was frightening and real, however exaggerated by the FBI. “The criminal in America is on the march,” Hoover announced. Dillinger, Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and Baby Face Nelson were among the public enemies; Hoover and the Government Men were the public heroes. Hoover was a master of manipulating the myth and reality about himself and the Bureau. His celebrity and the public support became the basis for almost unprecedented power. G-Men is set in the years 1930-39.
The world famous escape artist could escape from everything - except his own mortality.
In the decade after the Civil War, former slaves sing their way into a nation's heart with spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery.
Bascom Lamar Lunsford and his campaign to preserve mountain music and dance.
Legendary bank robber John Dillinger garnered the admiration of many struggling Americans, but FBI took him down with a message: crime doesn't pay.
The story of the polio crusade pays tribute to a time when Americans banded together to conquer a terrible disease.
An updated look at the Alabama tenant farmer families that Walker Evans and James Agee documented in their 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning book.
Their intense faith and strict adherence to 300-year-old traditions have by turn captivated and repelled, awed and irritated, inspired and confused America.
The bizarre saga of the Symbionese Liberation Army and Patty Hearst's kidnapping and conversion to her captors' cause.