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A solid look at the specifics of the case as well as a useful overview of the ideological debate gripping America." —Kirkus
“A timely reminder that the worries about national security and loyalty—concerns often derided as paranoiac, right-wing delusions—were entirely justified.” —Wall Street Journal
"Rigorous and carefully documented analysis...[Alger Hiss] is a rare thing: a good book about an important subject. Shelton makes a sledgehammer of a case…a sustained artillery assault." —National Review
“ A much needed book... With clarity, conciseness, and a sure hand, Christina Shelton guides the reader through what has become an otherwise nearly impenetrable jungle of controversy.”” — Tennent H. Bagley, author of Spy Wars
“In Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason, Christina Shelton ably captures the real Alger Hiss—his path to communism, his treason, and his conviction and imprisonment. Her evidence is overpowering: Alger Hiss was indeed a communist spy. Shelton carefully connects Hiss to his historical context inside America’s political elite, which was chagrined and strangely baffled when Hiss’s treason was exposed.” —Burton Folsom, Jr. and Anita Folsom, authors of FDR Goes to War
“Shelton makes clear what Hiss did and the impact it had on U.S. intelligence. . . . A well-done book written by someone who knows.”
—David Murphy, retired chief of Soviet operations at CIA HQ and author of What Stalin Knew
Retired U.S. intelligence analyst Shelton provides a systematic chronicle of the affair, introducing the events to a generation who, she suspects, knows little of that fraught era, when left-leaning academics and intellectuals flirted with Soviet Communism before the extent of Stalin's totalitarianism was generally acknowledged. The book encompasses familiar biographies of Alger Hiss, a Baltimore-raised brilliant student of Johns Hopkins and Harvard Law School who went on to become a high-level U.S. State Department officer, and Whittaker Chambers, a Columbia University dropout of exceptional writing ability who became a senior Time editor. By contrast and comparison, Shelton reveals how Hiss used his upper-middle-class German breeding, fancy education and good looks during his two perjury trials to discredit the more slovenly, dumpy Chambers. Hiss, a committed New Dealer, as many communists were, met Chambers when he was recruited during the mid '30s into the so-called Ware Group, a communist cell in Washington, D.C. As a high-placed government lawyer, Hiss had access to classified information and passed it to Chambers, who had the documents copied then delivered to his Soviet superior. However, Chambers' crisis of conscience over Stalin's crimes by 1938 prompted him to quit the party, going underground to save himself from assassination. Until the mid '40s, Hiss' activities were apparently known by many in the State Department and FBI, and Shelton confirms the fact (made unfashionable thanks to the subsequent "red scare") that communists had indeed "infiltrated" many agencies of the U.S. government. The author makes a good case for the willful blindness practiced by the pro-Hiss involved, delving carefully into the literature and documentation.
A solid look at the specifics of the case as well as a useful overview of the ideological debate gripping America.
Introduction Richard Pipes xi
Part 1 The Early Years 9
I Growing Up in Baltimore 11
II Hopkins and Harvard Law 21
III Priscilla Hiss 31
IV Supreme Court Clerk and Attorney-at-Law 43
Part 2 A Committed Communist 53
V The New Dealer 55
VI The Ware Group 65
VII Whittaker Chambers 87
A The Witness 87
B GRU 106
VIII The State Department Bureaucrat 111
IX Yalta 129
X Fascism and Communism 157
Part 3 accused and convicted 171
XI The Case 173
XII Lewisburg Prison 197
XIII Crusade for Vindication, 1954-96 205
Part 4 The Evidence 219
XIV Testimonies 221
XV Venona Program 239
XVI Archival Material: 247
A Hungarian Archives 247
B KGB Archives 255
Posted April 4, 2014
I was a college student in the late 60s, early 70s. I actually was in a group that sponsored an Alger Hiss fundraising event on campus. Going along with the popular mythology built around the "innocence" of Alger Hiss I regret my part in helping with the ongoing cover-up of actual misdeeds while he was in the employ of the government. I really wish I knew then what I know about the case now. This is a well-written and thoroughly documented book on Alger Hiss, the man, and the case proving his involvement in pro-Soviet spying and espionage. Highly recommend this to others who still hold onto the belief of his innocence.
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Posted August 25, 2012
Posted July 13, 2012
The truth cannot be denied any longer, but many in the media ignore it. This man did much damage to this country like many other Soviet spies. The media still insists it was all made up. Thank you for this book!
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Posted May 19, 2012
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