Scott Miller details the career of Allen Dulles, who eventually became the first Director of the CIA. This book details his career before that, during WWII, when he was located in Bern, Switzerland and played in active role in the German Resistance. Dulles was OSS Agent 110 for the precursor of today’s CIA. He was charismatic, a ladies’ man, and one who appeared (at least from his actions) largely undaunted by the danger he faced. One of his most significant relationships was with Mary Bancroft (socialite member of the family who owned Dow Jones Co. for a time) who was Dulles’ lover for a while and a sort of protégée and employee for a while longer. Together, Mary and Allen worked with Fritz Kolbe, amongst others, to gather Nazi intelligence. They tried to negotiate the surrender of Nazi officers towards the end of the war, and they were also tangentially associated with the failed plot to kill Hitler, “Valkyrie” in July of 1944. Mr. Miller notes Dulles’ many successes and also shows his subject’s prescient thoughts about the eventual spread of communism.
This is a fascinating look at American efforts to fight Hitler off the battle field. Although Miller notes that Dulles’ dedication to the Jewish cause was questionable, it can’t be denied that Dulles played a significant part on behalf of the Allies. This book provides a good big-picture look at the American efforts centered in Switzerland at that time, but what is missing is a close look at Dulles himself. Many times, the book describes activities of those around him rather than focusing on Dulles in particular. The man remains elusive and one can only guess about his thoughts and motivations based on the actions he took. Much more historical than biographical, this book is filled with interesting stories.
Amazon link is here.