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The Devil's Chessboard

Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
Narrated by: Peter Altschuler
Length: 25 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (858 ratings)

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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

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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.

16 of 17 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.

18 of 20 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.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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One of the best books I've recently read

This is a fantastic book. I'm aware of many things the CIA has been involved in, but did not know about the extensive career Allen Dulles had and the hand he had in world affairs. This book was fascinating to me. Many are aware of the transition of the OSS to the CIA and the control the CIA had and has over America, but the book goes into great detail about the history of this. It also sheds light on the how's and why's of what the CIA did and the control it assumed over the government and beyond. There is a lot of excellent history taught in this book as well as the unscrupulous things Dulles did throughout his long career with the CIA. I can't say enough good things about this book. I read for education and this book delivered in the CIA and deep state arena.

2 of 2 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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Warning: Cautionary Truth

I wish all educated American’s knew this sad tale. This cancer on the American Experiment is still metastasizing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent work!

Explains much of how our rights have been erroded and the world is ending up deceived.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • RR
  • 08-21-18

good info in the story but dragfed on at times

If you're a JFK Conspiracy believer this is for you. Its amazing how foolish the CIA & other branches of Govt. think the American people are to still support the Warren Commission.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very insightful

Makes you realize how much our politicians hide from us and that the news we see is just managed propaganda. It really does matter who controls the message controls the people, (at least those listening).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Astonishing historical account of evil that men do

I listed to this book twice in short order and will listen to it again. It offers astonishing sets of facts and connections that might make you pause to digest.

This book puts a finger point of the strange libertine, crypto fascist characters of both of the Dulles brothers, from wife swopping with the Luce family to Nazi human resources operations, to the systematically putting the interests of their law firm clients ahead of the American voter.... (however, it did leave out their ownership of all those Coasta Rican fruit farms.)

It is a massive story, the murder of an America president. But It would be nice if this highly talented author went back to explore regional consequences of Dulles leadership in places like Hawaii's banks, Africa and East Asia (teaching English and micro lending in Indonesia, Laos, etc).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim W
  • 03-12-18

Amazing book.

Fascinating from start to finish. A truly terrible story that describes Dulles’ personality and actions as head of CIA

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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.