A doozy of a dossier on Allen Dulles and his early days spying during World War II.
As recounted by former Wall Street Journal correspondent Miller (The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century, 2011), before orchestrating coups in places like Iran, Guatemala, and Cuba, Dulles was a dashing and dedicated operative for the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the CIA) charged with helping to keep tabs on Hitler and his Nazi henchmen. Although officially neutral, the Swiss city from which Dulles operated, Bern, was replete with double agents, moles, and spies of every stripe. It wasn’t long before Dulles learned about the powerful resistance groups within Germany and the German military itself who were bent on assassinating Hitler. One such character was the intriguing Hans Bernd Gisevius, a member of the German military intelligence who hated Nazis but also had a book he desperately wanted published. There was also American heiress Mary Bancroft, a globe-trotting socialite with an exquisite taste for danger: “Believing as I did that Jean was a Turk, I fancied myself in some mysterious kind of danger. A delicious thought.” The trio formed an incongruous undercover operation sharing secrets and sex. Dulles never missed a beat as he drew closer to the Valkyrie plot to blow up Hitler inside the “Wolf’s Lair” at Rastenburg, East Prussia. However, the future head of the CIA had more on his mind than knocking out Hitler or sleeping with Bancroft. Convinced that Stalin and the communists wanted to carve up Europe to their liking after the war ended, Dulles fought hard to warn the U.S. government of the coming Red Menace and craft the response that would shape America’s future over the next 70 years. To augment his rapid-fire spy story, Miller also supplies a timeline, a list of principal characters, and a brief closing section regarding the fates of the primary characters.
Entertaining for both its historical insights into WWII and its dramatic narrative.