One of the main themes that Stephen Kinzer’s 2013 book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, addresses is human agency and the role of powerful and driven individuals (and their world vision) in impacting and shaping world events and history. In this book, the powerful individuals in question are John Foster Dulles (former Secretary of State) and his brother, Allen Dulles (former director of the Central Intelligence Agency).
In the short introduction to his book, Kinzer notes that,“These uniquely powerful brothers set in motion many of the processes that shape today’s world.” Throughout the book, he elaborates on how their actions while in positions of power, particularly their interventions in sovereign foreign nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, were informed by their particular worldview and may have ultimately been well intentioned but mostly resulted in the lengthy upheaval, destabilization, and impoverishment of these nations. He notes that “Some of the countries they targeted have never recovered. Nor has the world.”
The aforementioned quote also speaks to another important theme, our collective historical memory. Kinzer claims that many of us have forgotten the Dulles brothers and their impact, to the detriment of our understanding of world history and current events. In other words, in order to understand the past few decades as well as our current situation, we have to study the Dulles brothers and their actions as “obscured roots.” Particularly, Kinzer claims that the Dulles brothers have shaped our understanding of the United States and its role in the world. They have impacted how we behave as citizens and how we expect our government to behave and should therefore be studied. As he notes, “The story of the Dulles brothers is the story of America. It illuminates and helps explain the modern history of the United States and the world.”
For further reading, I would recommend the book itself, especially the brief introduction. You may also find NPR’s interview with the author interesting.