Surveillance in America: The origin of a book cover

By Dean Haspiel

Author Ivan Greenberg and I had such a good time designing his first book cover, THE DANGERS OF DISSENT: The FBI and Civil Liberties Since 1965, that when he asked me to design the cover for his second book, SURVEILLANCE IN AMERICA: Critical Analysis of the FBI, 1920 to the Present, I couldn’t wait.

Ivan emailed me his initial ideas:
“While looking at some of your drawings in The Alcoholic, saw urban rooftops in NYC.  Do a rooftop image of NYC with surveillance somehow all over it?? Or a news reporter or something — I write about the media in the book — being manipulated by the state??? Or it could be a person looking out a window on the big bad city under surveillance; something about cars or trucks down the street, and binoculars in the window across the street, like Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”???”

So, with Ivan’s ideas in mind, I looked online at a bunch of surveillance graphics and studied Saul Bass for his iconic movie poster art and The Stenberg Brothers for their paranoid poster art and I came up with a bunch of different graphics and we settled on a final cover image.

Click thru the slide show above to see the different sketches and book covers.

–Dean Haspiel

Ivan Greenberg is the author of two recent books on surveillance and the FBI published by Rowman and Littlefield.  In The Dangers of Dissent (2010) and in Surveillance in America (2012), he offers a new view of surveillance in the U.S. based on a close reading of dozens of declassified government documents.  The Journal of American History said his Dangers book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the impact of the security state on civil liberties. His book is a passionate account, although not a polemical one, and its urgent tone reminds us that the price of our inattention has often been higher than we wish to admit.”

He also contributed chapters to several books: The 1980s: A Critical and Transitional Decade (2011), edited by Kimberly R. Moffitt and Duncan A. Campbell; Protest and Punishment (2012), edited by Jeffrey Shantz; and Inequity in Education: A Historical Perspective (2009), edited by Debra Meyers and Burke Miller.  Greenberg earned a PhD in History from the CUNY Graduate Center and taught for a decade at the college level in New York City.

He is an exhibiting visual artist and a published poet.  His paintings have been exhibited at the A-forest Gallery in New York City and his poetry appears in two anthologies published by Diversion Press.