Skip to comments.The Whittaker Chambers Haters (Book Review)
Posted on 07/01/2013 6:04:30 PM PDT by Brad from Tennessee
We can start with the spoiler. At the end of his newly released and massive revised edition of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, Allen Weinstein makes the following observation: "As for the conspiracy theories themselves, we may expect that newer and perhaps more ingenious defenses of [Alger] Hiss may emerge, if only because none of the theories raised during the past six decades has proved persuasive. There has yet to appear, however, from any source, a coherent body of evidence that seriously undermines the credibility of the evidence against Alger Hiss."
There will never be produced such a body of evidence, because Alger Hiss was guilty. The relevant questions today are what his guilt means. On that score, conservatives as well as liberals may have something to learn.
The story is famous and well known to some, but increasingly forgotten by too many Americans. On August 3, 1948, a Time magazine editor and former communist spy named Whittaker Chambers came to Washington, D.C. On that day Chambers testified that Alger Hiss, a former high ranking State Department official and president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was a Communist and Soviet agent who had passed secrets to Moscow.
Hiss denied the charge and sued Chambers for libel. The resulting trials and media circus became a sensation in America. At the time and for decades afterwards, the left argued that Alger Hiss was innocent. However, in the last few decades documents released from KGB files have proven that Hiss was in fact a Soviet agent. . .
(Excerpt) Read more at realclearbooks.com ...
Will have to check it out. I’m reading “Disinformation” at the moment. About half way through. It’s digging into Oswald and the KGB right now.
Everyone should read Witness, by Whittaker Chambers. Everyone. This is one of the most important books and beautifully written books of the 20th century. An eye-opening, haunting memoir. A 50th Anniversary edition is available in book, audiocassette and Kindle editions. Worth every cent. This is a gift you should consider giving to all who care about really understanding the history of the past 90 years.
Witness is one of the most life changing books I have ever read. I try to re read it every holiday season.
Good God. I suppose there are some Stalinists out there who still cling to the innocence of Alger Hiss, and they also believe the Rosenbergs were innocent too.
Sad. There are a lot of deluded people out there. And the media has done everything within its power to delude them and keep them deluded.
When I see the NYT unequivocally state that Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy as were the Rosenbergs, and the Joe McCarthy and Whittaker Chambers were RIGHT, then I will think about considering the possibility all liberals aren’t either mentally ill or total ignorant sheep.
Until that day, I am sticking with it, because it is true. See my Freep Page.
Is this based on the Venona Papers?
It was written well before the Venona papers were revealed. Chambers wrote it at the height of the Cold War. He was a communist who changed sides and wrote of his conversion. Part of the pathos of his book is that he wasn’t fully convinced that our side would win. He knew we were right but worried that socialism appealed to people’s sense of morality in a way that a liberty oriented philosophy simply could not, and therefore had the edge in winning followers.
I came around to Witness by way of Ann Coulter, oddly enough. It was her book “Treason” that made me curious about Joseph McCarthy and “McCarthyism”. The more I learned on my own, and the less I leaned on what I had been taught in school and told by the media, the more angry I became
I came to understand that Joseph McCarthy was an American hero. He was slandered and defamed by the same type of people who practice the same types of tactics on their enemies today.
I was one of those people who unthinkingly believed about McCarthy what my teachers taught me in school, and what I saw in the newpapers, magazines and on television.
When I read Ann Coulter’s book “Treason”, I was perplexed. I was puzzled why her account of the famous encounter between Joseph Welch and Joseph McCarthy was so completely and diametrically different from the accounts I had grown up with and been taught.
It wasn’t just a little different, it was COMPLETELY different. So I did what the Internet allows you to do these days: I researched. I obtained the transcripts of the actual hearings, and read them.
Ann Coulter was spot on in her characterization of that hearing, and the others as well. After I read that, I began to read everything that didn’t appear to be completely slanted against McCarthy. I read three separate books on Venona, and then capped it off with the book that was, for me, the most important political book I have read in my life.
“Witness”, by Whittaker Chambers.
I was completely astounded by that book, and it explained a lot of things for me. It explained why the Left viewed Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy the way they did, and why all three of them, Chambers, Nixon, and McCarthy were villified and slandered by a poisonous and biased media.
What is perhaps most disturbing of all is to see that the Left practices the exact same form of character assassination warfare today that it practiced fifty years ago against Whittaker Chambers. Exactly.
I admit freely that it was a disillusioning time for me. To realize that all my teachers, people I had no reason to distrust, fed me a steady diet of falsehood regarding Joseph McCarthy. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever.
The good thing about it is that I now view everything political with a grain of salt, which I think is healthy. I am also now completely biased towards the right of the political spectrum. I have no use for the Left.
This was cemented for me back in 2007 at the Gathering of Eagles down in Washington, D.C.
I saw with my OWN eyes what happened that day, and I watched the news with ten other people afterwards, and was stupefied by the way the media presented it on television. Everyone in the room, all of us who had actually BEEN there and seen what went on, looked at each other in disbelief. I will say that there was not one person who was surprised by it, but...that didn’t mean we had to accept it. That was the first time I had seen on my own, the bias of the media.
I came to fully understand, as one only can when seeing something in reality, just how the media operates. And Whittaker Chambers was a full on victim, persecuted by them. For that, I will never, ever forgive them or take them seriously, ever again. I have often heard that once you see something, you cannot “unsee” it. It is true. I refuse to even watch television or read newspapers. It is all complete crap, being spoon fed in formulations they want us to eat and digest. And I am not participating.
On a side note, I had a website about Whittaker Chambers a few years back, and his grandson (David) politely asked me to remove the text from his “Letter to my Children” which is an integral part (foreward) of “Witness”. It was one of the most profound and moving things I had ever read, and fit the time in a way nothing else had. I understood it was a copyright issue, and readily agreed. But for some reason due to my ineptitude and ignorance of how Apple handled its web page program, no matter what I did, it kept coming up. He kept after me for what seemed like a year or so, and every time I felt like a dummy, because even though I would edit it and make sure it was gone, it kept coming back. Finally, Apple nuked that part of its offerings, and the website went away for good. I was relieved. He understood I wasn’t being stubborn, just inept...:) Seemed like a nice guy. I think he was a Freeper, though I haven’t heard from him for a while.
Exactly what we see being played out today 60 years later. It had devolved into Obama phones and other 'free' stuff.
[Is this based on the Venona Papers?]
I haven’t read the book. Weinstein acknowledges Venona and other post-Soviet evidence in this edition which is revised from his 1978 book. I think the main argument against Hiss is based on Hiss’ lack of credibility as opposed to the credibility of Chambers. And the whole collection of evidence from the Hiss-Chambers slander lawsuit then the Hiss perjury trial.
“Witness is one of the most life changing books I have ever read”
Me, too. I was 15 in 1960, and was reading widely.
Chambers fought Communism even though he thought he was on the losing side of history in this regard. That was a hard thought for me to fully understand at the time.
You don’t have to be a perfect hero to do the right thing. I have a first printing of this important work in my bookcase. ;^)
Not so, Brad. As a matter of fact, the evidence presented by the testimony of Whittaker Chambers under oath turned out to be so absolutely compelling that not even a full court, all out ad hominem tarring and feathering by radio, television, newspapers and academia could save Alger Hiss from conviction, although it is a CRIME of major proportions that the only thing the nailed him for was perjury.
The evidence was overwhelming.
One striking example was the typewriter used by Alger Hiss to transcribe the documents given to him by Whittaker Chambers.
When the irrefutable proof was tendered, Alger Hiss could only say something like “I have no idea how Whittaker Chambers got into my house to use my typewriter...”
Even the jury tittered with laughter and incredulity at that line. People may be spoon fed feces and eat it, but...even the most gullible jurors knew exactly what it tasted like.
“Witness” by Whittaker Chambers should be on the must-read list of anyone who loves the anti-communist heroes who fought hard to protect us from the attempt by communists to undermine and destroy our capitalist free market system.
The last sentence has always stayed with me.
When I read “Witness” for the first time, it came across as a political book.
When I read it the second time, I was struck by the fact that the focus of the book was not in fact about a man leaving communism.
It was about a man trying to find God.
Brought tears to my eyes just to read that passage again.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.