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This book was more interesting than I thought it would be. Allen said he grew up discussing foreign affairs at the dinner table thus his life long interest. It is amazing that his family produced three Secretary of State: John W. Foster (1836-1917) who served as Secretary of State to President Benjamin Harrison; Robert Lansing (1864-1928) was from Allen’s mother’s side of the family and served President Woodrow Wilson; and his brother, John Foster Dulles, (1888-1959) served President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Allen W. Dulles (1893-1969) and his brother both graduated from Princeton University. They both were attorneys and both served on the Paris Peace Conference under President Wilson in 1919. Allen alternated practicing law and serving on various commissions/delegations for the State Department. In World War II he served in the OSS and after the war became head of the CIA.
In this book Allen provides an overview history of espionage from ancient time to the Cold War. The author spends a good portion of the book telling about Soviet spies that were caught and how the Soviets changed tactics from the 1920s to the Cold War. The book is well written but is written as a history book not a novel. The book provides some insight into Allen Dulles. He made a moment that struck a flash back for me. Dulles was discussing how Soviet citizens learned to blend into society, do nothing to be noticed and follow the rules exactly. It struck me that was what Ayn Rand was writing against in her books. Years ago, I had a problem looking at the American society v Rand’s philosophy. As she had immigrated from the USSR, I now understand. It is funny how something not related to the book suddenly is made clear. The last section of the book reviews spy techniques and how the CIA is run and what departments of government oversee it.
This book was originally published in 1963. L. J. Ganser does a good job narrating the book. Ganser is an actor and has won three Audiofile Earphones Award as well as the 2005 Audie for non-fiction audiobook narration.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Its a very good base of knowledge for the understanding of early 20th century intelligence gathering techniques
Who was your favorite character and why?
What does L. J. Ganser bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Yes, he sounds wise, which adds gravitas
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
Allen Dulles knows a lot about intelligence operations but you'll probably not enjoy his take on homosexuals
Any additional comments?
A product of its time