This revisionist study-the first full-length treatment of Dulles since 1973-argues that Dulles, working alongside Eisenhower, inaugurated the first era of Soviet-American detente and helped Ike lead the United States through eight years of unparalleled peace and prosperity. In contrast to the critics who have portrayed him as the personification of the Cold War mentality, Marks makes the case that he was eminently flexible behind the scenes and as pragmatic as was possible during a period of rampant McCarthyism. John Foster Dulles' reputation among diplomatic historians has been at a low ebb for many years. The fact that it is only now beginning to show signs of recovery is surprising considering that his modus operandi, coupled with a public style that concealed as much as it revealed, enabled him to gain the respect of hundreds of overseas officials, including those of the USSR. The cutting edge of an extraordinarily subtle and complex mind made it possible for him to lead the United States through eight years of unparalleled peace and prosperity.
Nevertheless, the strategy and tactics behind such a record have escaped notice, especially in academia, where he is still subject to varying degrees of caricature. Not since 1973 has any full-length study dealt in any comprehensive way with Dulles as secretary of state even though a steady stream of fresh source material has become available during the interim. Power and Peace offers the first analysis of Dulles' operational plan across the board. It is also unique for the type of linkage that is uncovered between different issues in different parts of the world. Beyond this, on the basis of research notable for breadth as well as depth in key areas, it differentiates Dulles from Eisenhower, showing that, contrary to conventional wisdom, it was the former who generally took the lead on policy matters. It indicates that Dulles was capable of weighing in heavily on the side of non-intervention and hence was no more of a hawk than Ike. It also unveils important differences of opinion separating the secretary from his boss.
Professor Marks presents some of the most crucial episodes in an entirely new light-for instance the Dien Bien Phu crisis, Western European union, intervention in Guatemala, and Dulles' indispensable work on behalf of Austrian freedom, work that has yet to receive even minimal recognition. Finally, Marks explores the intellectual side of the secretary, something once again neglected but nonetheless essential since Dulles, of all American statesman next to John Quincy Adams, was a thinker. In a nutshell, Marks puts the case that far from being the personification of the Cold War mentality, as he is so often portrayed on the basis of his rhetoric, Dulles was eminently flexible behind the scenes and about as pragmatic as it was possible to be at a time of rampant McCarthyism. Working alongside Eisenhower, he inaugurated the first era of Soviet-American detente: and it is in this light, Marks argues, that Dulles is best understood, as well as most worthy of remembrance.