Synopses & Reviews
A joint biography of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who led the United States into an unseen war that decisively shaped todays world
During the 1950s, when the Cold War was at its peak, two immensely powerful brothers led the United States into a series of foreign adventures whose effects are still shaking the world.
John Foster Dulles was secretary of state while his brother, Allen Dulles, was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this book, Stephen Kinzer places their extraordinary lives against the background of American culture and history. He uses the framework of biography to ask: Why does the United States behave as it does in the world?
The Brothers explores hidden forces that shape the national psyche, from religious piety to Western movies—many of which are about a noble gunman who cleans up a lawless town by killing bad guys. This is how the Dulles brothers saw themselves, and how many Americans still see their countrys role in the world.
Propelled by a quintessentially American set of fears and delusions, the Dulles brothers launched violent campaigns against foreign leaders they saw as threats to the United States. These campaigns helped push countries from Guatemala to the Congo into long spirals of violence, led the United States into the Vietnam War, and laid the foundation for decades of hostility between the United States and countries from Cuba to Iran.
The story of the Dulles brothers is the story of America. It illuminates and helps explain the modern history of the United States and the world.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013
"Born into Eastern establishment privilege, these two men strode into the uppermost strata of the U.S. government with a virulent anti-communist bent that infused US foreign policy during the Cold War. The siblings were temperamental opposites. Foster was a social misfit and one-woman man who memorized biblical passages, while his younger brother, Allen, was a libertine with a taste for servants and prone to fits of debauchery. But brotherly camaraderie is tangential here as Kinzer (Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future), an award-winning journalist, focuses squarely on how the men became architects of the emerging superpower. Restrained from their most ambitious foreign adventures under the Truman administration, their fortunes changed when the next president, Dwight Eisenhower, appointed Foster to lead the State Department and Allen the CIA. Consumed by their quest to avert Soviet domination across the globe, their fingerprints were all over some of the most sordid episodes of the Cold War: bringing down duly elected governments in Guatemala and Iran; sowing the seeds of the Vietnam War; assassinating Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba; and attempting to overthrow Fidel Castro. This approachable history is a candid appraisal of how the Dulles's grandiose geopolitical calculations set in motion events that continue to reverberate in American foreign policy today. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Named a Best Book of the Year by TheAtlantic.com
and Kirkus Reviews
"[A] fluently written, ingeniously researched, thrillerish work of popular history… Mr. Kinzer has brightened his dark tale with an abundance of racy stories. Gossip nips at the heels of history on nearly every page." - The Wall Street Journal
"Anyone wanting to know why the United States is hated across much of the world need look no farther than this book... A riveting chronicle." - The New York Times Book Review
"[The Brothers] is a bracing, disturbing and serious study of the exercise of American global power… Kinzer, a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, displays a commanding grasp of the vast documentary record, taking the reader deep inside the first decades of the Cold War. He brings a veteran journalists sense of character, moment and detail. And he writes with a cool and frequently elegant style."—The Washington Post
"[A] fast-paced and often gripping dual biography."—The Boston Globe
"Stephen Kinzer's sparkling new biography...suggests that the story of the Dulles brothers is the story of America."—Washington Monthly
"Two exceptionally important stories take up the bulk of Kinzers book, and both are told with considerable insight and disciplined prose."—Bookforum
"The errors of the Dulles brothers are vividly described in this highly entertaining book…A thoroughly informative book."— Revista: The Harvard Review of Latin America
"A historical critique sure to spark debate."—Booklist
"The culmination of an oeuvre (All the Shahs Men, Overthrow and others) featuring the Dulles brothers in supporting roles, The Brothers draws them from the shadows, provoking a reevaluation of their influence and its effects."—Kirkus.com
"A secret history, enriched and calmly retold; a shocking account of the misuse of American corporate, political and media power; a shaming reflection on the moral manners of post imperial Europe; and an essential allegory for our own times."—John le Carré
"Kinzer tells the fascinating story of the Dulles brothers, central figures in U.S. foreign policy and intelligence activities for over four decades. He describes U.S. efforts to change governments during this period in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Cuba, and other countries in exciting detail."—John Deutch, former director, Central Intelligence Agency
"As someone who reported from the Communist prison yard of Eastern Europe, I knew that the Cold War really was a struggle between Good and Evil. But Stephen Kinzer, in this compressed, richly-detailed polemic, demonstrates how at least in the 1950s it might have been waged with more subtlety than it was."—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography
"A disturbing, provocative, important book. Stephen Kinzer vividly brings the Dulles brothers, once paragons of American Cold War supremacy, to life and makes a strong case against the dangers of American exceptionalism."—Evan Thomas, author of Ikes Bluff: President Eisenhowers Secret Battle to Save the World
"The Dulles brothers, one a self-righteous prude, the other a charming libertine, shared a common vision: a world run from Washington by people like themselves. With ruthless determination, they pursued, acquired, and wielded power, heedless of the consequences for others. They left behind a legacy of mischief. Theirs is a whale of a story and Stephen Kinzer tells it with verve, insight, and just the right amount of indignation."—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: Americas Path to Permanent War
About the Author
Stephen Kinzer is the author of Reset, Overthrow, All the Shah's Men, and numerous other books. An award-winning foreign correspondent, he served as the New York Times's bureau chief in Turkey, Germany, and Nicaragua and as the Boston Globe's Latin America correspondent. He is a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, contributes to The New York Review of Books, and writes a column on world affairs for The Guardian. He lives in Boston.
Table of Contents
PART I: TWO BROTHERS
1. Unmentionable Happenings 7
2. The Taint of My Environment 37
3. Dull, Duller, Dulles 63
4. That Fella from Wall Street 86
PART II: SIX MONSTERS
5. A Whirling Dervish with a College Education 119
6. The Most Forthright Pro-Communist 147
7. A Matchless Interplay of Ruthlessness and Guile 175
8. The Self-Intoxicated President 216
9. The Tall, Goateed Radical 247
10. The Bearded Strongman 284
PART III: ONE CENTURY
11. A Face of God 311