The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power
Author: Seth Rosenfeld
"Electrifying."—The New York Times Book Review
"Encyclopedic and compelling."—The New Yorker
A New York Times Bestseller
A Christian Science Monitor Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year
Winner of the PEN Center USA Book Award
Winner of the Ridenhour Book Prize
Winner of the Society of Professional Journalists' Sunshine Award
Winner of Before Columbus Foundations's American Book Award
Subversives traces the FBI's secret involvement with three iconic figures who clashed at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile radical Mario Savio, and the liberal university president Clark Kerr. Through these converging narratives, the award-winning investigative reporter Seth Rosenfeld tells a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters, and secret detention lists all centered on the nation's leading public university. Rosenfeld vividly evokes the campus counterculture, as he reveals how the FBI's covert operations—led by Reagan's friend J. Edgar Hoover—helped ignite an era of protest, undermine the Democrats, and benefit Reagan personally and politically.
The FBI spent more than $1 million trying to block the release of the secret files on which Subversives is based, but Rosenfeld compelled the bureau to reveal more than 300,000 pages, providing an extraordinary view of what the government was up to during a turning point in our nation.
Part history, part biography, and part police procedural, Subversives reads like a true-crime mystery as it provides a fresh look at the legacy of the 1960s, sheds new light on one of America's most popular presidents, and tells a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked secrecy and power.