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The-Devils-ChessboardIf it’s the run up to Christmas then it must also be time for yet another conspiracy theory book about Kennedy’s assassination. Well yes, of course, and The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbot published this month by William Collins appears to tick all these marketing boxes.

However Talbot gives us a rather superior contribution to the whole “secret world” genre.

My mother, like many British of her time, had loathed the Dulleses ever since their unwanted intervention pulled Britain out of Suez in 1956, but Talbot gives us even more reasons to dislike this strange cold malevolent psychopath.

The list of the pies Dulles was poisoning seem endless. Allen Dulles may be one of the few men in each generation who might truly be called evil, and this important expose of the lives of Allen and his only slightly less unpleasant brother John Foster Dulles, gives us the tour of the founding of the cabal whose legacy is a secretive shadow state behind the USA working on behalf of its wealthy elites. It is a book both timely and necessary.

We may call it “the deep state” or “the national security state” but it’s all one, and lovingly recounted in this magisterial sweep through American politics and the personalities who controlled the USA from the Second World War to Robert Kennedy’s assassination.

David Talbot’s forensic and intrepid examination of the forces behind today’s USA can expect to be ignored or dismissed by the media, it is certainly a book which for some unknown reason doesn’t seem to be getting much media time!

Dulles’s time was a reign of terror from the World War II contacts he made with German Nazis onwards,“He was more in step with many Nazi leaders than he was with President Roosevelt”. He made business and legal contact with the nexus of industrialists central to the effective running of Nazi Germany, he protected them after the war, he abandoned the Jews, he attempted to undermine Roosevelt’s policy of trying the Nazi leaders in open court. He was unfaithfull to every President he served.  He established his own kingdom by constructing the CIA about him forming a shadow government which has outlived him.

But for me the best parts of the book are where he deals with Dulles’s attempted coup d’etat against the French President Charles de Gaul in 1962, and the pace of the story picks up with this terrifyingly eerie similarity to the circumstances surrounding the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963. It makes it feel like a dress rehearsal. And America wonders why the French are suspicious of her!

The meddling in Central America, rigging elections, toppling democratically elected governments have interested me in previous posts, here and here. His legacy, (and why America has such trouble with its image in that part of the world), may best be illustrated by the painting above by Diego Rivera, a mural painted in 1954 on linen and entitled sarcastically “Glorious Victory”. It remembers the CIA coup which overthrew Guatemala’s democratically elected government. At its centre stands CIA Director John Foster Dulles shaking hands with the leader of the coup Colonel Castillo Armas. The bomb at their feet has the face of President Dwight D Eisenhower who had given the orders for the military coup. A priest stands at the back officiating over the killing of workers whose bodies scatter the picture. And the head of the CIA at the time of the coup Allen Dulles is standing with the US Ambassador to Guatemala John Peurify handing out the money to the military and fascist junta. The Maya tribesmen slaving away at the bananas are from the United Fruit Company on whose board Allen Dulles sat.

The Devil’s Chessboard is a very important work, and yes it’s over 600 pages and very long. However Talbot brings his journalist skill and ability to bear chosing just the right picture, just the most apposite recollection for you that ensures it is a gripping read.

Foreigners, British, French, Central Americans may know something about Dulles and his pernicious works but this book is an eye-opener for both them and the American public.

Copyright David Macadam 2015