It was during the Vietnam era and the country was torn and divided. Some thought the war was immoral or unnecessary. To the patriotic “silent majority” it was essential to prevent the march of atheistic communism combined with “my country right or wrong.” That is all water over the dam now though the fact that China attacked and fought a war with Vietnam in the aftermath and Vietnam now wants to be our friend seems historically relevant. There was no "domino."
Still, The Burglary is only indirectly about Vietnam, what makes it an important and riveting book, is its portrait of the destructive power of excessive government secrecy and spying. Relevant today, it tells the story of J Edgar Hoovers FBI and his attempt to stifle any dissent by any Americans and/or groups he personally didn’t like…… And thus strike at the core values of a democratic society.
The groups he hated included blacks, war protestors, the highly educated, unions, most homosexuals, left handed people, people with a certain shaped skull, hippies, anybody who disagreed with him and also strangely the C.I.A. He loved secret files he had built to coerce and blackmail people and petty and stupid easily caught criminals who built the FBI’s “success ratio” though the mob didn’t attract his attention as they were a tough nut to crack.
The heart of the book though is about a very small group of ordinary criminals who broke into an office in a small suburb of Philadelphia, stole some government files, and then sent them off to major newspapers across the country. It was, of course, an FBI office and the files revealed the depths of Hoovers paranoia and violations of the American Constitution. They, three women and five men, some with families and young children, were never caught.They were quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans but nevertheless their break-in of the FBI office made them criminals in the eyes of the law.
It begans in 1971 in an America being split apart by the Vietnam War . . . This small group of activists the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, inspired by Daniel Berrigan’s rebellious Catholic peace movement, set out to use a more active, but nonviolent, method of civil disobedience to provide hard evidence once and for all that the government was operating outside the laws of the land.
The would-be burglars—nonpro’s—were ordinary people leading lives of purpose: a professor of religion and former freedom rider; a day-care director; a physicist; a cab driver; an antiwar activist, a lock smith ; a graduate student haunted by members of her family lost to the Holocaust and the passivity of German civilians under Nazi rule.