Book ID: CBB977707696

Scientists Under Surveillance: The FBI Files (2019)


Brown, J. Patrick (Editor)
Lipton, Beryl C. D. (Editor)
Morisy, Michael (Editor)
Aftergood, Steven (Contributor)
Robinson, Walter V. (Contributor)

The MIT Press

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: 440
Language: English

Cold War–era FBI files on famous scientists, including Neil Armstrong, Isaac Asimov, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Alfred Kinsey, and Timothy Leary.Armed with ignorance, misinformation, and unfounded suspicions, the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover cast a suspicious eye on scientists in disciplines ranging from physics to sex research. If the Bureau surveilled writers because of what they believed (as documented in Writers Under Surveillance), it surveilled scientists because of what they knew. Such scientific ideals as the free exchange of information seemed dangerous when the Soviet Union and the United States regarded each other with mutual suspicion that seemed likely to lead to mutual destruction. Scientists Under Surveillance gathers FBI files on some of the most famous scientists in America, reproducing them in their original typewritten, teletyped, hand-annotated form. Readers learn that Isaac Asimov, at the time a professor at Boston University's School of Medicine, was a prime suspect in the hunt for a Soviet informant codenamed ROBPROF (the rationale perhaps being that he wrote about robots and was a professor). Richard Feynman had a “hefty” FBI file, some of which was based on documents agents found when going through the Soviet ambassador's trash (an invitation to a physics conference in Moscow); other documents in Feynman's file cite an informant who called him a “master of deception” (the informant may have been Feynman's ex-wife). And the Bureau's relationship with Alfred Kinsey, the author of The Kinsey Report, was mutually beneficial, with each drawing on the other's data. The files collected in Scientists Under Surveillance were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by MuckRock, a nonprofit engaged in the ongoing project of freeing American history from the locked filing cabinets of government agencies.The ScientistsNeil Armstrong, Isaac Asimov, Hans Bethe, John P. Craven, Albert Einstein, Paul Erdos, Richard Feynman, Mikhail Kalashnikov, Alfred Kinsey, Timothy Leary, William Masters, Arthur Rosenfeld, Vera Rubin, Carl Sagan, Nikola Tesla

Reviewed By

Review Paul Rubinson (2020) Review of "Scientists Under Surveillance: The FBI Files". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 434-435). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Drucker, Donna J.
Robinson, Paul
Rainger, Ronald
Pauly, Philip J.
Jerome, Fred
Chiang, Howard Hsueh-Hao
History of the Human Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Technology and Culture
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Cornell University Press
St. Martin's Press
University of Washington Press
University of Pittsburgh Press
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Texas at Austin
Cold War
Science and politics
Nuclear weapons; atomic weapons
Sexual behavior
Science and society
Kinsey, Alfred C.
Einstein, Albert
Sagan, Carl
Masters, William Howell
Johnson, Virginia Eshelman
Ellis, Havelock
United States
Soviet Union
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
United States. Central Intelligence Agency
Radio Corporation of America
Indiana University
Federation of American Scientists
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

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