Whittaker Chambers: A Biographyby Sam Tanenhaus
Whittaker Chambers is the first biography of this complex and enigmatic figure. Drawing on dozens of interviews and on materials from forty archives in the United States and abroad--including still-classified KGB dossiers--Tanenhaus traces the remarkable journey that led Chambers from a sleepy Long Island village to center stage in America's greatest political trial and then, in his last years, to a unique role as the godfather of post-war conservatism. This biography is rich in startling new information about Chambers's days as New York's "hottest literary Bolshevik"; his years as a Communist agent and then defector, hunted by the KGB; his conversion to Quakerism; his secret sexual turmoil; his turbulent decade at Time magazine, where he rose from the obscurity of the book-review page to transform the magazine into an oracle of apocalyptic anti-Communism. But all this was a prelude to the memorable events that began in August 1948, when Chambers testified against Alger Hiss in the spy case that changed America. Whittaker Chambers goes far beyond all previous accounts of the Hiss case, re-creating its improbably twists and turns, and disentangling the motives that propelled a vivid cast of characters in unpredictable directions.
A rare conjunction of exacting scholarship and narrative art, Whittaker Chambers is a vivid tapestry of 20th century history.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
- Random House Publishing Group
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The byrds once wrote a song with the line; "Find the cost of freedom". Whittaker Chambers found the cost of freedom was total. This is the remarkable story of one of the greatest Americans of the 20th Century rivetingly told by a master storyteller. It is the story of redemption and voluntary martyrdom. Having chosen the Communist lie of the 1920's and 30's, Chambers decended into the Communist underground as a spy and courier. Chambers slowly realizes the greatness of his error and the almost impossible path back to salvation. His salvation required him to become an informer, reviled and despised. A self confessed spy, liar and (based upon the mores of the 40"S) a homosexual. In the face of all this he tries to convince America of his truth and help route out the espionage network he helped establish. One of the most famous spy stories of the twentieth century, it also unfortunately, helped lay the ground work for the excesses of McCarthy and his witchhunt. This is not an easy story and it split America with a force that reminds one of the Dreyfus case. Stranger than any fiction this book will keep you reading and thinking from beginning to end.
Not only is this book one of the strongest biographies I've encountered, its subject is a fascinating, complex, intruiging, highly intellectual character whose life's events now embody an infamous period of American history. I'm not sure what is more compelling -- the events of (and that led to) the Hiss trial, or the profound cerebral hunger and philosophical searchings that consumed Whittaker Chambers.
A terrific all-American tale of a brilliant man besieged by all the demons of his era.Want to know how one could become a communist in the USA in the 1930's? Read this book! Learn about real cloak and dagger affairs,nasty mid-century politics,the life of an intellectual turned communist turned conservative.Treachery and lies on the highest level.And Mr Chambers just wanted to till the fields of his farm at the end.
Detailed history of Chamber's passage from radical to realist. Page turning read! THis is important history that needs to be understood especially by the youth of the twenty first century. Progressives by any other name are a corrosive threat to society