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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 backdrop ofAmerican 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 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 such as Cuba and 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Angela on 10-26-13
Cold war and intrigue - who could ask for more
If you could sum up The Brothers in three words, what would they be?
Fascinating, well-researched, thoughtful
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Brothers?
Hearing the behind the scene stories of cold war events
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
all of the above
Any additional comments?
I just finished listening to Stephen Kinzer's extremely well written and researched book about the Dulles Brothers and their place in American history. The book reads like a novel but is full of great research about the 1950's, the cold war and beyond. I was mesmerized by the scope and even- handedness of the author's words. I recommend this book for all who want to have a clearer understanding of a very difficult period in our country's history. This book is a clear and fearless look at our past. The narrator of the book did an excellent job. Llisten to the audio of Stephen Kinzer's book - The Brothers- it's well worth your time.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
By Jean on 09-26-14
A duel biography
I found this book most interesting. I knew some of the information contained in the book but this is the first time I had seen in presented in this manner. I was aware of the Dulles brothers but it did not register with me that they were both in power at the same time. The Dulles family has served the government through many generations. John W. Foster was Secretary of State (1892-93) for President Benjamin Harrison. Eleanor Foster married Robert Lansing who served as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. Under FDR Allan Dulles served a decade in the State Department then served in the OSS where he was sent to Switzerland. He was to commission Carl Gustav Jung to prepare psychological profiles of Hitler and other Nazi leaders. Kinzer portrays Allen as a facile, charming womanizer with a lifelong passion for the ethos of espionage. Kinzer paints Foster as a stridently moralistic cunning strategist in international commerce. The author writes “They made an ideal team: one brother was great fun and a gifted seducer, the other had uncanny ability in building fortunes.”
Foster served as a foreign policy adviser to Thomas Dewey, the Governor of New York. Forster became an avid critic of Stalin’s essays and speeches. In 1952 Dwight Eisenhower became President and appointed Foster as Secretary of State. Allen became director of the CIA. Never before had two siblings enjoyed such concentrated power to manage United States foreign policy until the Kennedy brother came to power.
Eisenhower adopted the Containment Doctrine developed by George F. Kennan. I read “The Kennan Diaries” in March of 2014. This book goes into depth about the containment strategy. The author covers in great detail, the six different nationalist and communist movements around the world that covert action was taken by the Dulles brothers. There are Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Indonesia, African Congo and Cuba. Kinzer blunt assessment of Foster’s intellect, quoted Winston Churchill’s disparaging verdict that the Secretary of State was “dull unimaginative, uncomprehending.”
Anyone wanting to know why the United States is hated across much of the world need look no farther that this book. “The Brothers” is a riveting chronicle of government sanctioned murder, casual elimination of “inconvenient” regimes, relentless prioritization of American corporate interest and cynical arrogances on the part of two men who were among the most powerful in the world.
The author blames the two brothers for most of the evil of the cold war on the other hand he gives little attention to their sister who was their opposite. Eleanor Lansing Dulles graduated from Harvard with a doctorate in economics. She worked for the State Department for over twenty years overseeing the reconstruction of the economy of post war Europe. She helped establish the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. When her brother, John Foster Dulles, became Secretary of State he tired to remove her from State but she successful fought him. She was hailed as “The Mother of Berlin” for helping to revitalize Berlin’s economy and culture during the 1950s. She retired in 1962 and became a professor of economics at Georgetown University.
If you are interested in history, cold war, covert operation this is the book for you. David Cochran Heath did a good job narrating the book.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful