A Review of Two Essential Recent Books
by Dan Sanchez
March 01, 2016

I was intrigued by the 2015 release of David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. But it also reminded me of a 2014 book I had been wanting to read titled The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer. Since the earlier book covered both important brothers — the younger Allen who was Director of Central Intelligence and the elder John Foster who was Secretary of State — I decided to go with Kinzer.

As it turned out, I was so fascinated by Kinzer’s discussion of the Dulleses that after finishing The Brothers, I dove right into Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard. I am so glad that I did. While there is some unavoidable overlap, reading the two books in quick succession is not at all redundant. In fact, they are such splendid complements of each other, that one almost wonders if the two authors coordinated.

Both books are essential reading to understand, not only these two fascinating figures, but the U.S. itself from the post-World War II era to today. The Dulles brothers rose to power at a pivotal moment in American history. The great nations of Europe and East Asia were devastated by the War and for the most part lay prostrate at the feet of the American collossus. Together John Foster and Allen seized the day and fastened the U.S. government upon the world as a hyperactive, ruthless empire committed to perpetual war. In doing so, they also helped fasten an equally hyperactive and ruthless garrison state upon the American people themselves.

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