John Edgar Hoover was the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) and served in that post from the time he was 29 years old until his death at the age of 77. Hoover began working in U.S. government service in 1913, first at the Library of Congress, then at the Justice Department. During World War I Hoover worked for the Bureau of Investigation, keeping statistical records of immigrants for the Alien Enemy Bureau. A vigorous anti-communist, Hoover quickly moved up the ranks in the postwar period, and by 1924 was appointed Director of the Bureau of Investigation (later called the Federal Bureau of Investigation). He held the post until 1972, an administration that lasted from President Coolidge to President Nixon. Hoover had a reputation for hypervigilance in the face of crime and political subversion, and the F.B.I. grew to become known as an incorruptible force who kept files on just about everybody, from gangsters and spies to pop culture figures including John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marilyn Monroe and Eldridge Cleaver. Hoover has been a controversial figure since his death, and there has been much speculation about his personal life, family background and dictatorial rule over the Bureau; given his political power over five decades, he is a central figure in the history of scandal and U.S. politics.
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