Serious Book for Serious Professionals,
May 28, 2000
This is a book that had to be written and needs to be read by those who seek to understand Allen Dulles in greater depth. The author does break new ground and add valuable new detail to the history of Allen Dulles, and his hard work in bringing us this book merits appreciation. Having said that, I confess to three disappointments: 1) the use of years to demarcate the chapters, rather than meaningful titles, is both boring and representative of the book’s lack of presentational “zing”; 2) the book obsesses on Allen Dulles as the center of the earth and leaves out the context within which Dulles achieved his successes-casual references to how he operated two additional French networks, for example, without covering the arduous and detailed path that led to the creation and maintenance of those networks, leave one feeling as if Dulles simply waved a magic wand to create networks whole-bodied and in full force; and 3) the conclusion of the book, purportedly a review of what Allen Dulles would see and feel if he examined today’s intelligence community, is generally on target but rather terse-nothing that one could take to an incoming President to energize him into revitalizing and enhancing our national intelligence community. There are some gems in this book that reflect the author’s dedication and merit notice: Richard Helms reflecting on how America came much too close to losing World War II; Walt Rostow on calming the Kennedy’s and preventing a rash counter-attack once the Bay of Pigs was known to be a disaster-this is the stuff of history, and I therefore heartily recommend this book as a valuable contribution to our understanding of Allen Dulles’ place in history.