“Under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI scrutinized scientists in fields ranging from physics to sex research with a dubious eye because of their lack of knowledge, misinformation, and unjustified concerns. If the Bureau monitored writers due to their beliefs (as revealed in Writers Under Surveillance), it monitored scientists due to their knowledge. When the Soviet Union and the United States regarded each other with mutual hostility that seemed certain to result in mutual destruction, scientific ideals like the free exchange of information were perilous. Using actual typewritten, teletyped, and hand-annotated FBI files, Scientists Under Surveillance compiles information on some of America’s most well-known scientists.
Readers learn that Isaac Asimov was a top suspect in the search for a Soviet informant with the code name ROBPROF at the time that he was a professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine (the rationale perhaps being that he wrote about robots and was a professor). Some of the information in Richard Feynman’s “hefty” FBI file was based on a physics conference invitation that agents discovered while searching the Soviet ambassador’s trash; 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). Additionally, the collaboration between the Bureau and Alfred Kinsey, the author of The Kinsey Report, was advantageous for both parties as they used each other’s data.
The documents gathered for Scientists Under Surveillance were obtained through FOIA requests made by MuckRock, a nonprofit organization working on a long-term initiative to liberate American history from the closed filing cabinets of government organizations.”