President Donald Trump ignited a media firestorm earlier this week when he suddenly fired FBI Director James Comey. The ousted official, who made headlines late last year for his letter to Congress announcing he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, was more recently investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. In fact, Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department for more resources to investigate the Russia story just days before he was fired.
The FBI’s history, of course, stretches back much further than Trump and Comey. With the bureau all over the news these days, it’s the perfect time to delve into the organization’s history. Here are five books to help you do just that.
My FBI, Louis J. Freeh
Freeh remains the only FBI director to have written a tell-all book about his time running the bureau. His tenure lasted from 1993-2001 and thus covered President Bill Clinton’s many ’90s scandals and a struggle against the mafia. Freeh’s account gives insight into these big stories and the FBI’s operations from a man who would know.
Enemies: A History of the FBI, Tim Weiner
Weiner won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for his hard-hitting investigations into the Pentagon and CIA, and he brings the same level of hard-nosed reporting to this comprehensive history of the FBI. Although the current president has come into major conflict with the bureau, Weiner lays out the ways the FBI has long been used by presidents from Truman to Bush to conduct secret political warfare against “subversive” elements.
The Secret History of the FBI, Ronald Kessler
Kessler has authored over a dozen books about the inner workings of executive institutions like the Secret Service and CIA. In this one, he gives a behind-the-scenes account of both the FBI’s methods and the nature of their roles in infamous incidents like the Osama bin Laden raid and Vince Foster’s suicide.
Public Enemies, Bryan Burrough
J. Edgar Hoover’s original FBI is probably most well-known for their struggle against the early-’30s crime wave that included everyone from John Dillinger to Bonnie and Clyde. Here, Burrough cuts through Hoover’s myth-making to reveal the true story of how it all went down.
Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann
This vivid account of the 1920s murders of Osage Native Americans in Oklahoma is one of the best books of 2017 so far. Grann, the star New Yorker reporter behind The Lost City of Z, vividly recreates the massive conspiracy that tried to rob the Osage of their newfound oil wealth — which happened to be one of the first major cases for J. Edgar Hoover’s then-fledgling FBI.