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Book review

‘The Brothers’ by Stephen Kinzer

Just a few weeks ago, in a New York Times op-ed on President Obama’s Mideast plans, Russian President Vladimir Putin took exception to the notion of American exceptionalism. He might as well have taken aim at two brothers who were its modern founding fathers, both remembered dimly if at all today but were, if the phrase be permitted, present at the creation of our contemporary political world.

They were John Foster Dulles, secretary of state for most of the Eisenhower years (“prissy, forbidding, and fun-hating,’’ in the words of Stephen Kinzer), and Allen Dulles, director of Central Intelligence in the same period, a swashbuckler and serial adulterer (maybe even with the queen of Greece). Together they grafted an ethos onto the American political character.

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