The Vendetta: FBI Hero Melvin Purvis's War Against Crime, and J. Edgar Hoover's War Against Him

Alston Purvis, Author, Alex Tresniowski, Author
Alston Purvis, Author, Alex Tresniowski, Author . Public Affairs $26 (363p) ISBN 978-1-58648-301-2
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Paperback - 363 pages - 978-1-58648-741-6
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Purvis's fascinating story of his father, once internationally famous for his role in the violent takedown of John Dillinger and now an obscure figure, limns a true American tragedy. The senior Purvis's meteoric rise to prominence at the FBI, just coming into its own, placed the genteel lawyer at the center of the war on crime that gripped the nation in the early 1930s. His enthusiasm and dedication caught the notice of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who promoted him repeatedly and gave him more and more serious responsibilities. But Hoover's pettiness and paranoia led him to turn on his protégé, even reaching out decades after Purvis's departure from the Bureau to block him from other jobs. The book's impact is lessened somewhat by florid writing ("Something evil came to Wellsville in the dead of night"). Purvis (with People magazine writer Tresniowski) could have compensated for the existence of rival narratives such as Bryan Burrough's definitive Public Enemies by dwelling more on his own memories of his father, rather than giving details of manhunts for gangsters, but he succeeds in giving Melvin Purvis the accolades he deserves. Illus. not seen by PW . Agent, Ike Williams. (Oct. 4)

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