Whittaker Chambers in Books


Reviews books with Whittaker Chambers tagged either as Subject, Actor, or Mention

Carl Rollyson: Biography

A User’s Guide
(Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2008)

Biography requires insight, argues Dr. Carl Rollyson in his latest book, Biography: A User’s Guide. To appreciate the person studied — to trust the subject of a biography — the biographer must know the subject so well as to be able to assess the subject’s self-honesty. Rollyson discusses this issue on pp. 164-168. The subject is Martha Gellhorn; the biographical form, her letters (collected by Caroline Moorehead); the example, a look at Hiss Case protagonists Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss.

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Susan Jacoby: Alger Hiss and the Battle for History

Equally erring about Hiss

Alger Hiss and the Battle for History
Susan Jacoby
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009)

[This article first appeared in The Washington Times]

Susan Jacoby is a gifted writer. She is deft and light. As a grandchild of Whittaker Chambers (who was another gifted writer, if rarely so light), I looked forward to Alger Hiss and the Battle for History. How would she weigh in on the Hiss case?

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Tim Weiner: Legacy of Ashes

Legacy of Ashes:
The History of the CIA
Tim Weiner
(New York: Doubleday, 2007)
Official website: LegacyOfAshes.com

This book does not mention Whittaker Chambers by name, but the mention about Alger Hiss is noteworthy: Read the rest of this entry »

Tennent H. Bagley: Spy Wars

Spy Wars:
Moles, Mysteries & Deadly Games
Tennent H. Bagley
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)

The Hiss-Chambers mention is noteworthy:

Alger Hiss was another beneficiary of willful neglect of the obvious. His secret collaboration with Soviet Intelligence was known to Western authorities long before he moved up to play a substantive role in conferences where America’s posture toward the Soviet regime was being worked out, and more than a decade before he was finally brought down before a court… Why do we fall prey to hoaxes, deceptive tricks, lies, and misrepresentations that seem obvious to others less emotional or less involve? Why, once duped, do we then hang on to our misconception, sometimes against the evidence of our senses? Why, when supplied with that evidence, are we more likely to attack its suppliers — a Burtsev, Bukharin, Marton, Sneevliet, or Chambers — instead of the deceiver?> (pp. 272-273)

Second mention:

If American are not alone in suffering this form of blindess, they are particularly predisposed to it. Whittaker Chambers wrote of that “invincible ignorance, rooted in what was most generous in the American character, which because it was incapable of such conspiracy itself, cold not believe that others practiced it. It was rooted, too, in what was most singular i the American experience, which because it has prospered so much apart from the rest of the world, could not really grasp… why [Communists] acted as they did.” (p. 274)

M. Stanton Evans: Blacklisted by History

Blacklisted by History
M. Stanton Evans
(New York: Crown Forum, 2007)

This book, which defends the career of Senator Joseph McCarthy, has some interesting quotes about Whittaker Chambers.

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Amy Knight: How the Cold War Began

How the Cold War Began:
The Igor Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies

Amy Knight
(New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005)

Sovietologist Dr. Amy Knight approaches the politically charged Hiss-Chambers Case on the side of Alger Hiss. For her, Whittaker Chambers was one of many tools in the hands of the FBI to attack the administration of President Harry S. Truman. She presents Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and others involved in pre-McCarthy investigations to be victims, equally and alike.

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