The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
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An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful—and secretive—colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers.
America’s greatest untold story: the United States’ rise to world dominance under the guile of Allen Welsh Dulles, the longest-serving director of the CIA. Drawing on revelatory new materials—including newly discovered U.S. government documents, U.S. and European intelligence sources, the personal correspondence and journals of Allen Dulles’s wife and mistress, and exclusive interviews with the children of prominent CIA officials—Talbot reveals the underside of one of America’s most powerful and influential figures.
Dulles’s decade as the director of the CIA—which he used to further his public and private agendas—were dark times in American politics. Calling himself “the secretary of state of unfriendly countries,” Dulles saw himself as above the elected law, manipulating and subverting American presidents in the pursuit of his personal interests and those of the wealthy elite he counted as his friends and clients—colluding with Nazi-controlled cartels, German war criminals, and Mafiosi in the process. Targeting foreign leaders for assassination and overthrowing nationalist governments not in line with his political aims, Dulles employed those same tactics to further his goals at home, Talbot charges, offering shocking new evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
An exposé of American power that is as disturbing as it is timely, The Devil’s Chessboard is a provocative and gripping story of the rise of the national security state—and the battle for America’s soul.
Dulles, according to Jackie, so he went out of his way to include the disgraced CIA leader in the White House’s get-together. By now, enough time had elapsed since the disasters of April, and with Dulles on his way out, Kennedy was feeling magnanimous toward the Old Man. “[Jack] was so loyal always to people in, you know, trouble,” the First Lady later recalled. “And he made a special effort to come back from [the Oval Office] and sit around with Jayne and Charlie Wrightsman, just to show
bitterness: they both felt they had been made scapegoats for Kennedy’s failure of nerve at the Bay of Pigs. The retired spymaster sent Hunt his photograph, and Hunt gave him a copy of his angry Cuba memoir. “I wrote this book as an antidote to the despondency that seized me in the wake of the Cuba project,” Hunt explained in an August 1962 letter, “and I hope it may give you some diversion now.” Serving Dulles, Hunt wrote in an earlier letter, was “an honor I shall always cherish.” Fearing that
the services of his former CIA colleagues and his wide network of political and media contacts. The other two principal players in the inquest were Dulles’s longtime friend and fellow Cold War heavyweight, McCloy, and future president Gerald Ford, who was then an ambitious Republican congressman from Michigan with close ties to the FBI. While the rest of the commission—Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Senators Richard Russell of Georgia and John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky—shuttled back
members—there was probably very little spleen involved, just cold calculation. After Noel dropped out of sight in Prague, his family implored Dulles to help. He had been a guest in the family’s Zurich home. Both Field and his father had put themselves at his service. But Dulles did nothing to rescue Field. And he did nothing to prevent Noel’s family members from walking headlong into the same trap. Three months into his long ordeal as a captive of Poland’s Stalinist regime, Noel’s brother
three hours,” recalled Eleanor, who—after Foster reluctantly agreed to give her the State Department’s Bonn desk—sometimes joined her brothers at the spacious stone house in a wooded neighborhood of Washington. “I know Foster valued these conversations.” Unlike the gregarious Allen, Foster was somewhat of a loner. “I’m not sure that there are more than a half dozen people in Washington that he felt really at home with. Maybe a dozen,” said Eleanor. Allen was Foster’s essential link to the