JOHN FOSTER DULLES: A Biography by John Robinson Beal

JOHN FOSTER DULLES: A Biography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Report repeated from the November 1st bulletin, as follows: ""The biographer presents as 'the peacemaker' is John Foster Dulles- and this, had it been published earlier, could have been a major political document. For here is a thoughtful, incisive, analytical and extraordinarily objective study of what Dulles has brought to his post as Secretary of State, and what his contributions have been. To a very minor degree, this is a cursory biography, only those facts presented that give him rounded entity as a human being or that made their mark on him in his role. No matter what one's feelings about Dulles at the beginning, any fair reader will- at the end- concede him a place in world history. One recognizes in his processes, the lawyer dominating the moralist; one agrees that his ambition was directed through a major part of his life to achieving a post where he could apply his training and gifts to the job of peacemaking; one understands that his pronouncements are deliberate shock techniques, rooted in deliberation and consideration of the steps to a chosen goal; one is not asked to endorse these techniques- but to face the facts. Step by step, Mr. Beal has weighed each of the major decisions- the three grave crises on the brink of war (the decision regarding Korea, which resulted in the Communists accepting the stated terms of truce; Formosa and- news value here- the assurance secretly to Chiang Kai-shek, that the islands would be defended; Indochina- and the achievement of partition at the 17th parallel). Dulles has had considerable administrative trouble, not always of his own making, but the end result has been a heightened endorsement in a tough stand from the White House. He has been almost consistently unpopular with the Press, but, a dedicated man with a healthy ego, he is not sensitive to criticism nor has he hesitated to make himself available. Beal points out succinctly the basic difference between recognizing a problem and coping with it, and his chapter on press relations contains some of the most challenging writing in the book. Each of the conferences at top level in which Dulles took a major part are studied, their achievements and failures analyzed, their true importance weighed, their by-products indicated. The issues of NATO and SEATO are discussed. The problems of subversion at the national level came to a head in the Guatemala issue and again in the support of Diem in Vietminh. The final chapter, preceding the summation, deals with Nasser and the Suez crisis, examines the steps that led to it and the part played by Dulles, but recognizes that no conclusions can as yet be ventured. Beal gives Dulles credit at any rate for postponing the impetuous launching of force as a means of settlement. Unity in Western Europe, his long term goal, has been forwarded by the Suez crisis. And today's headlines about the satellite countries would seem to suggest that his crusade for liberation, in whatever channels it has been operated, is bearing fruit. This is a book that demands close reading, careful weighing of the pros and cons. It is persuasive, without being propaganda; challenging, and consistently interesting.

Publisher: Harper