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Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles Hardcover – November 29, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
This is the first full-length biography of the man historian Michael Beschloss calls the keystone figure in the history of American intelligence. Allen Dulles (1893-1969) served in the Office of Strategic Services in Europe during WWII and was named director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1953, serving under Eisenhower and Kennedy. In an overlong, sometimes tedious narrative, Grose (Israel in the Mind of America) describes how Dulles oversaw the firm establishment of the CIA in the Washington power structure during the Eisenhower years (his older brother, John Foster Dulles, was then the Secretary of State), only to be forced out after the CIA's failure in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Later appointed to the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy, Dulles became its most diligent member, according to Grose, and a supporter of the view that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Other controversial issues explored include Dulles's exploitation of ex-Nazi Reinhard Gehler's spy network in the early years of the Cold War, and whether JFK authorized, or even knew about, CIA attempts to liquidate Castro. Grose delves unenlighteningly into Dulles's shortcomings as husband and father; he kept a mistress or two and spent little time at home. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Benefiting from access to newly opened sources, this book describes how Dulles used his natural charm to win friends, discover information, and work his way to the top of the CIA. Grose, who has years of experience in foreign affairs both as a journalist and a State Department official, also paints an interesting picture of the powerful, moneyed world of international finance and politics that most of us never see. He goes fairly easy on Dulles, concentrating on his official work and delving less deeply into his personal life; in many ways, this book reflects Dulles's own style. For a more critical view of Dulles's complex relations with fascists and European industrialists before, during, and after World War II, see Burton Hersh's The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA (LJ 2/15/92). Recommended for informed readers. (Index not seen.)-Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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By Peter Grose
By Richard E. Noble
Opinions on Allen Dulles range from prominent diplomat, CIA mastermind and raconteur to a traitorous, conniving scoundrel, who sold out his country for personal gain. His Brother Foster is held in exactly the same regard.
This book I would not rank as the definitive biography of Allen Dulles. A definitive biography, it would be my guess, has not yet been written - and may never be written. This man and this family have more skeletons in its closet than one book could possibly contain - even a 641 page tome as this one.
To go even further, I would not define the main purpose of this book to be a biography of Allen Dulles. This is a history book dealing with the establishment of the CIA and its evolution over the years.
The CIA begins as a rather simple and primitive wartime intelligence gathering agency. It starts out in the late 40's and evolves into a giant government secret organization with unlimited, untraceable funds following the pattern of the Russian KGB or the Nazi SS.
It actually incorporates into it nefarious folds ex-members of the German SS and other Nazi organizations - "good Germans" according to Mr. Allen Dulles' conscience and a book he published.
It becomes involved with torture, killing, espionage, assassination, fomenting revolution, toppling foreign governments, and creating havoc and discord around the world on behalf of the American government for purposes often difficult to determine. This is not accusation; it is fact. You can read about it almost anywhere and in hundreds of books.
As head of the CIA and one of its initial founders Allen Dulles is everywhere and involved in things yet to be disclosed. But once again, I will repeat, this book is less about Mr. Allen Dulles as it is about the CIA and its evolution and its intrigues around the world.
If you are into studying this subject you will find this book to be more of an encyclopedia of well known and well documented facts.
Politically speaking I would say this book is middle of the road if not leaning somewhat to the right.
Allen Dulles' position with regards to his clients at Sullivan and Cromwell is explained clearly. Allen is a defender of moneyed interests. It matters little if his clients have their money invested in Nazi German munitions plants, or in smuggling war supplies into Nazi occupied territory. It is all American money and American money anywhere is worth defending and securing. Profit is profit - all wars aside. For most of us nearer to the bottom of the human food chain this is hardly a tenable position.
Allen, it becomes clear, is first a smart lawyer defending the interests of his moneyed clients and second, a government employee or whatever else might come along to advance his position and personal fortune.
He is a philanderer, and if you can believe this author, more concerned with the morality and ethics of his decision making, at least, than his brother Foster. His wife Clover seems to have been much more than he deserved.
The book does not go into details of investigations of Sullivan and Cromwell or any other of the Dulles financial investments and activity - shenanigans may be a better word. The author dismisses the bulk of these controversies as political in nature and skips on past.
The book contains lots of valid, documented information, very few opinions and avoids most anything controversial. Oh it states what happened or what was said but no controversial details. You will find all the prominent misfits from the annals of "spy" fame - Kolbe, Angleton, Donovan, Philby, Oswald, E. Howard Hunt and the rest. But I found nothing I didn't already know.
This book is a good mainstream overview of the CIA, the spy Game and Allen Dulles. But if you are looking for a scathing, no holds barred, in depth expose of the life, times, and shadowy involvements of Mr. Dulles and friends, this is not your book. This is a good, solid, conventional history book. If you want more "meat" I guess that you will have to wait for the unauthorized biography by Kitty Kelley - though, you will get more "fluff" than meat there, no doubt.
Richard Edward Noble - The Hobo Philosopher - Author of:
"Mein Kamp - An Analysis of Book One"