Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles

Peter Grose, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $30 (641p) ISBN 978-0-395-51607-2

This is the first full-length biography of the man historian Michael Beschloss calls the keystone figure in the history of American intelligence. Allen Dulles (1893-1969) served in the Office of Strategic Services in Europe during WWII and was named director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1953, serving under Eisenhower and Kennedy. In an overlong, sometimes tedious narrative, Grose (Israel in the Mind of America) describes how Dulles oversaw the firm establishment of the CIA in the Washington power structure during the Eisenhower years (his older brother, John Foster Dulles, was then the Secretary of State), only to be forced out after the CIA's failure in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Later appointed to the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy, Dulles became its most diligent member, according to Grose, and a supporter of the view that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Other controversial issues explored include Dulles's exploitation of ex-Nazi Reinhard Gehler's spy network in the early years of the Cold War, and whether JFK authorized, or even knew about, CIA attempts to liquidate Castro. Grose delves unenlighteningly into Dulles's shortcomings as husband and father; he kept a mistress or two and spent little time at home. Photos. (Nov.)