Washington, D.C., regulars may know some of this information, and foreign nations certainly do, but all engaged American...

THE DEVIL'S CHESSBOARD

ALLEN DULLES, THE CIA, AND THE RISE OF AMERICA'S SECRET GOVERNMENT

Former Salon founding editor-in-chief Talbot (Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love, 2012, etc.) shares his extensive knowledge and intense investigations of American politics with a frightening biography of power, manipulation, and outright treason.

The story of Allen Dulles (1893-1969), his brother John Foster, and the power elite that ran Washington, D.C., following World War II is the stuff of spy fiction, but it reaches even further beyond to an underworld of unaccountable authority. Dulles’ career began in the New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he built a powerful client list. During wartime in Switzerland, he worked to protect his clients’ corporations and build his own organization. In direct opposition to Franklin Roosevelt’s policy, he sought a separate peace with the Germans to use them to fight communism. Talbot delivers a variety of thrilling stories about Dulles that boggle the mind, from skimming funds from the Marshall Plan to using Richard Nixon as his mouthpiece in Congress. It is really about the power elite, the corporate executives, government leaders, and top military officials who controlled the world. They protected corporate interests in Iran, Guatemala, and elsewhere, and they fomented revolutions, experimented in mind control, and assassinated those who got in their way. With John Foster as secretary of state, this “fraternity of the successful” enforced a Pax Americana by terror and intimidation, always invoking national security and often blatantly disobeying policy guidelines. The author asserts that the Bay of Pigs was an intentional failure, meant to force John F. Kennedy to invade Cuba and retrieve corporate properties. Even out of office, Dulles’ conspiracies continued. Talbot also delves into CIA involvement in Kennedy’s assassination. Ultimately, the blatant manipulative activities of the Dulles brothers will shock most readers.

Washington, D.C., regulars may know some of this information, and foreign nations certainly do, but all engaged American citizens should read this book and have their eyes opened.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-227616-2

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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