Whittaker Chambers: A Biography

Whittaker Chambers: A Biography

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by Sam Tanenhaus
     
 

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Primarily known as the accuser of Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers was a commanding, complex figure who was center stage during many of the public events of his time, yet remained intensely private. This book covers Chambers' personal life, as well as his emergence as a dominant voice in the postwar ant-Communist movement. 16 pp. of photos. 640 pp. Print ads. Author…  See more details below

Overview

Primarily known as the accuser of Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers was a commanding, complex figure who was center stage during many of the public events of his time, yet remained intensely private. This book covers Chambers' personal life, as well as his emergence as a dominant voice in the postwar ant-Communist movement. 16 pp. of photos. 640 pp. Print ads. Author tour. 35,000 print.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A life of the man who brought down Alger Hiss, from his years as a Soviet agent to his anti-Communist crusade after defection.
Kirkus Reviews
A sympathetic full-length portrait of a man best known for making Alger Hiss and Richard Nixon famous. In 1948, Whittaker Chambers was a self-confessed spy for the Soviet Union turned rabid anti-Communist. Called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, he named names, leading two years later to the sensational perjury conviction of Hiss, an esteemed diplomat. Hiss died still protesting his innocence, and with his defenders and detractors still accusing Chambers of perfidy or defending him as a hero of the Cold War. For all the rich nuances of this biography, Tanenhaus belongs to the latter camp, matter-of-factly declaring Hiss guilty in a footnote early in this chronicle. Tanenhaus depicts Chambers as a deeply flawed but brilliant and tragic figure, who proved to be a more steadfast idealist than most of the people around him—including Senator Joseph McCarthy and young congressman Nixon, both of whom shamelessly exploited the Hiss case to advance their careers. Tanenhaus seeks the logic in Chambers's odyssey from accomplice to accuser, from his troubled home on Long Island to his star turns in the Communist Party, at Time magazine, on the witness stand, and, finally, as a guru in the 1950s to the then-fledgling neoconservative movement. To Tanenhaus, the ironic—but still logical—denouement to Chambers' life was his 1959 resignation from the staff of William F. Buckley's National Review, in disagreement over the magazine's hard-line stance against Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Tanenhaus writes well and sometimes brilliantly in arguing that Chambers was far more than a supporting actor to McCarthyism and the Cold War. However, theauthor introduces no new evidence likely to change minds and, by attempting to put Chambers on a pedestal, has inevitably exposed himself and his subject as targets.Expect this book to stoke fires already burning for nearly half a century.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394585598
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/18/1997
Pages:
638
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.98(d)

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