“Sparkling” –Washington Monthly
“Fast-paced and often gripping” –Boston Globe
“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
My new book is a joint biography of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who led the United States into an unseen war that decisively shaped today’s 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, I place their extraordinary lives against the background of American culture and history. I use 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 country’s 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.
Order it from your local bookseller, or from Amazon at:
“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: America’s Path to Permanent War
“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 Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World