Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers and the Case That Ignited McCarthyism


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About the Book

This is a consensus-challenging history of the Alger Hiss–Whittaker Chambers controversy of 1948 to 1950, a criminal case in which Hiss was convicted of perjury after two long trials. Chambers claimed that Hiss had passed classified State Department documents to him in 1937 and 1938 for transmittal to the Soviet Union. Hiss denied the charges but was found guilty at his second trial (the jury could not reach a decision in the first). Hiss was not charged with espionage because of the statute of limitations.
The main focus of this narrative concentrates on the early months of the affair, from August 1948 when Chambers appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and denounced Hiss and several others as underground Communists, to the following December when Hiss was indicted for perjury. The truth emerges as the story unfolds, based in part on grand jury records unsealed by court order in 1999, leading to the conclusion that the stories Whittaker Chambers told the authorities and later published about himself and Alger Hiss in the Communist underground are completely fraudulent.

About the Author(s)

Lewis Hartshorn is an independent scholar who lives on the Texas Gulf coast.

Bibliographic Details

Lewis Hartshorn
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7442-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0281-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments   viii

Preface   1

I. Enemies Within   3

II. Richard Nixon Ascending   10

III. Close Friends   19

IV. Star Chamber   27

V. HUAC Questions Hiss Privately   45

VI. Showdown at the Hotel Commodore   54

VII. “The Truth Doesn’t Matter”   64

VIII. Wall Street Lawyer   74

IX. Confrontation Under Klieg Lights   108

X. Libel: Hiss v. Chambers   118

XI. Comrade Carl   128

XII. Saint Whittaker   142

XIII. Suicide Watch   165

Appendix: Adolf Berle Notes of Meeting with

Whittaker Chambers, September 2, 1939   195

Chapter Notes   209

Bibliography   212

Index   215