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Publisher's Summary

An explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA into the most powerful - and secretive - colossus in Washington, from the founder of Salon.com and author of the New York Times best seller Brothers.

America's greatest untold story: the United States' rise to world dominance under the guile of Allen Welsh Dulles, the longest-serving director of the CIA. Drawing on revelatory new materials - including newly discovered US government documents, US and European intelligence sources, the personal correspondence and journals of Allen Dulles' wife and mistress, and exclusive interviews with the children of prominent CIA officials - Talbot reveals the underside of one of America's most powerful and influential figures.

Dulles' decade as the director of the CIA - which he used to further his public and private agendas - were dark times in American politics. Calling himself "the secretary of state of unfriendly countries", Dulles saw himself as above the elected law, manipulating and subverting American presidents in the pursuit of his personal interests and those of the wealthy elite he counted as his friends and clients - colluding with Nazi-controlled cartels, German war criminals, and Mafiosi in the process. Targeting foreign leaders for assassination and overthrowing nationalist governments not in line with his political aims, Dulles employed those same tactics to further his goals at home, Talbot charges, offering shocking new evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

An exposé of American power that is as disturbing as it is timely, The Devil's Chessboard is a provocative and gripping story of the rise of the national security state - and the battle for America's soul.

©2015 David Talbot (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • KTS
  • Houston
  • 02-06-16

Disturbing. Makes you question the company line.

Where does The Devil's Chessboard rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

A chilling tale of the Dulles brothers and their vast and I would contend very negative influence on history. Many of today's ills can be traced back to them. I have difficulty with sensationalist stories where "fact" seems too extreme to be plausible, but in this case, most of the "facts" seem to hold together, at least until we get to the Kennedy assassination part, as to which I have no basis to judge. Some of the facts mesh with first hand evidence that I have: my dad worked for CIA in Iran and much of what is related about the Mossadegh affair comports with tales he told to me as a child. I can not know the truth of the Kennedy killings, but at a gut level I know there is more than we have been told or than we will ever know. Allen Dulles was too careful. Although the narration is a bit slow, you grow used to it. The story is compelling, more so because it is true and because we can look in hindsight and see the stupidity and unintended consequences of our nations irrational fear of communism and our imperialist approach to other nations. I is well worth the time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Devil's Chessboard?

The descriptions of the Patrice Lamumba's murder and the role of Larry Devline, whom I once met briefly during a visit to Washington DC by Mobutu Sese Seko for whom Mr. Devline worked.

What about Peter Altschuler’s performance did you like?

It was ok.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No particular moment, rather a succession of moments leading to the realization that our nation is too hypocritical to accept, and its people too brainwashed to consider for a moment that many of the worlds ills stem from the corruption, greed and fear that formed the core of administrations from the not so distant past. I never liked the Eisenhower administration much, now I detest it. Read the book and see why.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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The Devil's Chessboard

Excellent narration of a detailed and well researched book about how America has been betrayed. This is the story of how two brothers and their associates, followers and inner circle have devastated the American dream. This book shows how conspiracies work and how the unsuspecting public is manipulated into believing the lies. It is a book that should be read, or listened to, by everyone.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • DS
  • 11-10-15

The clearest explanation of the '50's & '60's

This is just one more book about the Dulles brothers but probably the clearest and best explanation of the cold war mess from the US side. While the content made me sick to my stomach, the story was well told and I liked the narration just fine. But god those two were destructive psychopaths.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Courageous Book

Every American should read this book. Only then will we come to consciousness about what it's all about.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Everyone should read!

A brilliant account of how and why our nation and world is the way it is now.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

Mind blowing information very interesting and worth reading sneak peek view how the world really works

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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dazzling detail

so much information and detail our will blow your mind. If only more sensible mind had prevailed instead of this evil class of fascists.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Extensive

This book is really good it covers many events that are not generally taught in America I would be interested to have a little more Puerto Rican history as it pertained to the subject but understand this subject can be a never ending rabbit hole and the author has to draw a line some where. If you are a JFK enthusiasts you will love the end of this book, really well sourced.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Read

If you could sum up The Devil's Chessboard in three words, what would they be?

A page turner.

What did you like best about this story?

It was full of intrigue and historical information that helps to inform the current mess in the world today. There was so much information, I will probably listen to it again. It has given me a new perspective on the operation of the intelligence community and the crossover with politics.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

I wasn't that impressed with the performance.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This would be a great film

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I never considered a conspiracy.

I do now.
Outstanding tour de force of the era.
Having been 21 in 1963 Talbot makes it seem like yesterday.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sebastian Tiplea
  • 01-04-16

Excellent, complex book

Fascinating stories, goes way broader then just the JFK assassination, very enjoyable book. Interesting side events and people involved.