Underhill authors historical account of J. Edgar Hoover based on newly released documents


Stephen UnderhillDr. Stephen M. Underhill, associate professor of communication studies,  has published The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI with Michigan State University Press. It is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and other retailers. Underhill examines how longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover incited the Red Scare to undermine Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, as well as the New Deal.

Underhill was the lead reference person for declassified FBI and Department of Justice documents at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland (2007–12). He filed FOIA requests to declassify records from the FBI’s Classification 94 (Research Matters) to document Hoover’s domestic propaganda campaigns in the mid-20th century, indicating that Hoover utilized the power of his position to steer U.S. culture away from social democracy. The book also explores his ties to fascist leaders of the time, and how he passed for straight by villainizing gay people—hiding his own love affair with his second-in-command, Associate Director Clyde Tolson. Underhill contends that Hoover’s impact on American public life haunts us today.

Underhill’s work has an emphasis on rhetoric grounded in the interplay of history and politics. He focuses on institutionalized power in critical and cultural contexts, including matters of law enforcement and national security discourse. His work appears in Rhetoric & Public AffairsQuarterly Journal of SpeechWestern Journal of Communication, and Voices of Democracy.

Underhill joined the Marshall faculty in 2012. He earned a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Maryland (2012), an M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Portland (2005), and a B.A. in Political Science from Sonoma State University (2001).

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