Contrary to previous reviews, Allen does provide some great insights into the world of intelligence collection and analysis. However, keep in mind that Allen was also a CIA Director. This means he's not tapping phones himself, any more than a mining executive swings a pick axe, and so he's not going to tell you how that is done. It's also correct that we no longer live in Allen Dulle's world. Allen died in 1969, a world where the Soviets were at their most intimidating, Communism was a genuine global threat and the Cold War was a desperate battle of economics, politics, covert and overt violence, intelligence penetration and, of course, ideology. Please keep this in mind when you buy and read this book.
The book has some interesting insights into what intelligence meant at the time. It was the laborious penetration of the clandestine parts of a clandestine society. It was the penetration of soviet satellite nations. It was also the defence against clandestine penetration.
This book doesn't disclose national secrets, but I was surprised by the level of insight that Dulles provides into the intelligence world he led and managed at the time. Problems including the difficulties of penetration soviet society, the methods of blackmail that soviets would use against westerners, his opinion of the fundamentally untrustworthiness of the soviets (I got the impression they would not abide a gentleman's agreement), and many stories illustrating how soviets attempted to penetrate western targets (like embassies) while also showing how many soviets would defect and collaborate with the west.
I also don't want to give anything way, but his section on Homo Sovieticus was both very funny and chilling at the same time.
Lastly, he talks about issues of secrecy in a nation like the US, where the US will publish reams of congressional hearings, budgets, data about military advances in trade journals, and so on. Meanwhile, virtually everything was classified secret in soviet society. Of course, he believes it should be more difficult for the Soviets to collect details about American politics, but he also seemed a bit resigned to this level of wide publication as being a feature of what it is to be American.
To those who imagine that the world of intelligence involves somehow doing things that aren't common sense, this book will be disappointing. Allen Dulles talks about practical problems and practical observations about intelligence work at the time of writing.