Personalities in the Twentieth Century Research Task

History remains as one of the most important aspect of human life. In this regard, historians have found work in digging up information and data in relations to events and other occurring that happened in the past. One of the common arguments that have been presented from time to time is the fact that history is about winners. In reference to Vincent (2005), history is about winners and not losers since winners are the ones who write the history and that those who risk the gallows cannot in any way write negatively about themselves (p.26). According to Bertens (1997), the victors of history have a tendency of creating a past that is shaped in their own image (p.205). In this regard therefore, this essay will examine the truth of this statement that history is about winners in line with John Edgar Hoover, the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI. Therefore, this essay will focus most on the achievements of Hoover.

Hoover was born on January 1, 1895 to Anne Marie and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. in Washington, DC and grew up in the Eastern Market. He studied law and rose in his career to the point of becoming the FBI director. He worked in different department and particularly in the Library of the Congress under which he developed interest in fighting corruption, crime and other social vices. It is argued that at one particular time, Hoover contemplated joining the church ministry. However, he spend much of his life as FBI boss, with controversial leadership that led to the structuring of the FBI leadership terms that would only allow one to serve for a maximum of ten years as an FBI director.

It is important for one to understand that the issue of history and winners remains as one of the most profound issues is the leadership of Hoover. The history of the United States forever changed as a result of the leadership of Hoover as the FBI boss. To begin with, his ability to be tough not only on crime in the society but also on performance of the FBI agents and other employees earned him a mark in the books of history as one of the toughest FBI directors ever (Theoharis, 1999, p.333). With this in mind, when history is written today, Hoover remains as the longest serving FBI director since he was trusted by eight presidents under whom he served. In other words, eight political regimes found Hoover as an appropriate candidate to deal with the issues of crime, and other issues that threatened the US national security.

According to Breuer (1995), the 1930s saw scores of successes in the career of Hoover as the FBI boss as a result of his ability to deal with the underworld and other crime-related gangs in the United States (p.129). This probably enhanced his careers since he was able to achieve that which he was paid for. In other words, one can argue that much of the history of Hoover mentions his ability to deal with the challenges that emerged in his line of profession. Apart from dealing with crime, it has been observed that Hoover did not tolerate any form of unprofessional conduct in the FBI agency. Therefore, he fired employees, most of them agents who were unable to carry out their mandate as required and replaced them with those he thought could perform the job better (Theoharis, 1999, p.333). In some cases, these employees were transferred to areas where their careers could not flourish. 

Therefore, the ability of Hoover to tickle historical records as the long serving Federal Bureau of Investigation Director emanates from his willingness to fight not just to stay at the top but to overcome the issues in the society that he had been hired to deal with. On the other hand, Hoover took an initiative of educating the public on various important issues on security matters (Theoharis, 1999, p.333). Some of the security issues that the public were educated on were gangsters in the United States in the 1930s and the communism from the 1940s all the way to the 1970s. Such initiatives were accomplished through books and magazines that were written by journalists that supported the work of Hoover and the FBI agents. Notably, every piece of writing had an endorsement of Hoover as a sign that he was behind the message that was being passed on to the public (p.333).

Following this point, this also raises the concern that was observed by Bertens (1997) that victors have a tendency of creating a history in their own image (p.205). From what has been recorded on the life and career of Hoover as the FBI director, there are many instances whereby Hoover did act in the right way but more so attached his authority behind what was being done. This therefore left an image in the lives of people in the sense that when a particular issue concerning the US security and the FBI is mentioned, it was associated with him. For instance, the Americans have a negative image concerning communism in the society. With this in mind, the US could easily implement the policies of Hoover to fight communism since he had been able to gather public support that was necessary and important in winning such a war.

Whereas one can win alone, most cases require appropriate people around that person. It also encompasses the fact that one could formulate appropriate strategies that could enable him or her to find support in different areas including social, political and economic support. Such support is important and necessary if at all one has the desire of winning in his career and any other areas in his or her life and thus finding himself or herself in the books of history. In reference to Theoharis (1999), Hoover had the ability to gather enough support from the American citizens while at the same time receiving financial support from the federal government (p.333). This fact was made viable since Hoover had been successful in whatever he did as the FBI boss.

In addition to laying down the necessary strategies that would put a person in a position to win and thus write history, it has also been noted that once a person begins to succeed in his life, the chances of winning and succeeding again in life would increase substantially. This is as a result of the fact that once a person has been able to conquer a challenge, he is most likely to be placed in a position whereby he or she will be left to deal with more challenges, thus increasing his chances of winning. For instance, the ability of Hoover to deal with criminal issues in the United States widened his scope of dealing crime (Theoharis, 1999, p.333). In this regard, a person’s chances of appearing in the history books would increase substantially.

In line with the above argument, it can be concluded that history is mostly about winners. This emanates from two facts. To begin with, those who take risks in life for the sake of winning cannot in any way write negatively about themselves. Therefore, in most cases, it is difficult to find a person who has failed writing about himself or herself. Secondly, winners have a tendency of creating a history that is after their own image. With this in mind therefore, history would then be about winners in the society.