David Talbot’s new book The Devil’s Chessboard (left) is about the reign and influence of CIA director Allen Dulles (right). Photo credit:  Book Cover (Harper Collins), Allen Dulles (US Government Photo / Wikimedia)

When the CIA was founded 70 years ago, it immediately began shaping the world in a way that served US business interests. In those days, the agency was led by Allen Dulles, its most powerful director. But who was this man? David Talbot, author of “The Devil’s Chessboard,” has the answers.

Last week, WhoWhatWhy commemorated the 70th birthday of the CIA with an excerpt from author David Talbot’s book The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. As a followup, in this podcast interview with WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman, originally aired October 2015, Talbot introduces us to Allen Dulles, the CIA’s first director — and arguably its most powerful. He explains how Dulles was born into a wealthy and influential family, and how all his life he served the interests of America’s power elite, the true ruling class of the country.

Like the great philosopher Plato, and a long line of disciples thereafter, Dulles believed that democracy was an intractable beast, and that the job of ruling should be left to the “best men” — those men from the best families who had the best education that money could buy. To Dulles, looking out for the interests of the corporate wealthy was the same as looking out for the interests of America. Unfortunately, the interests of the super privileged didn’t terminate at the borders of the US.

Whenever profits of American business interests were jeopardized overseas, Dulles and his CIA men made sure that “democracy” would deliver the correct outcome — by any means necessary. Whether it was through disinformation, funding opposition groups, sabotage, bribery, murder, or coup d’etat, the CIA let nothing and nobody stand in their way.

Looking at the American political landscape today, with an unscrupulous president in the Oval Office, and a Congress wholly financed and beholden to Big Money, we ask: Would Allen Dulles be pleased?

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Related front page panorama photo credit: Devil’s Chessboard Book Cover (Harper Collins), David Talbot (author photo)


  • Jeff Schechtman

    Jeff Schechtman’s career spans movies, radio stations and podcasts. After spending twenty-five years in the motion picture industry as a producer and executive, he immersed himself in journalism, radio, and more recently the world of podcasts. To date he has conducted over ten-thousand interviews with authors, journalists, and thought leaders. Since March of 2015, he has conducted over 315 podcasts for

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