Dulles remained deeply interested in foreign affairs. He focused on international business and became active in the New York–based Council on Foreign Relations. In the 1930s, he coauthored two books with Hamilton Fish Armstrong, editor of the council's journal Foreign Affairs, in which a dominant theme was that the United States could not hold aloof from European and world affairs.
In 1942, Dulles joined the newly created American intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was headed by Colonel William J. Donovan. Dulles spent most of the war based in Berne in neutral Switzerland. Here he ran a network of German intelligence agents, who brought him clandestine copies of numerous secret German documents. He was privy to—and encouraged—the failed German effort in July 1944 to assassinate Adolf Hitler. In early 1945, Dulles obtained copies of the diaries of Count Galeazzo Ciano, son-in-law of Italy's dictator, Benito Mussolini, giving him important insight into the workings of the fascist regime. In spring 1945, Dulles helped to negotiate the surrender of Germany's remaining forces in northern Italy. The independent initiation of this option by the U.S. and British forces alarmed Soviet leader Josef Stalin into fearing that his allies intended to negotiate a separate peace with Germany, and this situation has sometimes been perceived as the opening move of the Cold War. By 1944, the prospect of Communist and Soviet expansion in Europe undoubtedly disturbed Dulles.
Shortly after Dulles returned to the United States in summer 1945, President Harry S Truman disbanded the OSS. Dulles remained a strong advocate of a permanent foreign intelligence service and helped to draft the 1947 National Security Act, which created the Central Intelligence Agency. From 1950 Dulles was its deputy director, and from 1953 to 1961 he served as the agency's third director, his record including both triumphs and fiascos. Dulles died in Washington, D.C., on 29 January 1969.
Dulles, Allen W. The Secret Surrender. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.; Grose, Peter. Gentleman Spy: The Life of Allen Dulles. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.; Petersen, Neal H. From Hitler's Doorstep: The Wartime Intelligence Reports of Allen Dulles, 1942–1945. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.; Siodes, James. Allen Dulles: Master of Spies. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 1999.; Smith, Bradley F. The Shadow Warriors: OSS and the Origins of the CIA. New York: Basic Books, 1983.; Smith, Bradley F., and Elena Agarossi. Operation Sunrise: The Secret Surrender. New York: Basic Books, 1979.