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Hardcover Perjury: Hiss Chambers Book

ISBN: 0394495462

ISBN13: 9780394495460

Perjury: Hiss Chambers

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good*

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Book Overview

Although almost a half-century has passed since the jury at Alger Hiss's second trial pronounced him guilty of perjury, the case remains controversial and the verdict leaves questions unanswered. The... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

This Book is Exceptionally Written, Wonderful

This book is so credible, so exhaustively researched, it deserves substantial praise. You would have to be incredibly mean-spirited to smear this book. The lies presented as facts in the negative reviewers' comments show that the twisted forces Chambers warned about are still very much at work, especially among "elite intellectuals" (just as it was then). Ignore the deliberate lies that have done so much damage already. The author Weinstein himself was a hard-core leftist sympathizer, but the facts were overwhelming. Kudos to Weinstein for his own redemption.

The Truth Ignored

This is the most thorough and comprehensive piece of investigative journalism ever published. Weinstein treats the case like an onion, he peels off one layer, then another, then another.... His treatment of when the Hiss typewriter was manufactured would fill a small book in itself. The same is also true of the transfer of Hiss's car to the communist party, the Soviet gift of a carpet to Hiss, the dating of Chambers' microfilm, and so on. So why didn't Weinstein go on to become another Bob Woodward? Probably because his conclusion that Hiss was, in fact, a communist spy was unacceptable to so many people at that time. This was a great injustice to a man who told the truth and was himself suprised that the facts so heavily vindicated Chambers. With the publication of Sam Tanenhaus's "Whittaker Chambers: a biography," the truth of Weinstein's conclusion has now been, finally, accepted by most people-even on the left. But why Tanenhaus's book, which contains hardly anything new, should have changed anybody's view seems odd. I suspect that with the passage of time, Tanenhaus's softer tone, and Hiss's death, many Hiss supporters felt the time had come to concede an unpleasant truth.

A Masterpiece of American Historical Writing

This is one of *the* books that made me want to become a historian. It's a miracle of research and writing. Weinstein started out as a left-wing partisan who wanted to prove Hiss innocent, and he received blessings from the man himself. But as he dug deeper and deeper, the professor discovered the remains of the secret world of Soviet espionage in America, and became convinced that Hiss was guilty. And he proves it in a tour-de-force of historical analysis: I would go so far as to say their is really no reasonable doubt left. This new edition contains the evidence of the recently declassified "Venona" Soviet documents that were decoded by the CIA at the time. One can argue about the wisdom of keeping such damning evidence secret for so long, but their release now puts the last nail in the coffin of the ill-considered faith of those who still, after everything, mock Whittaker Chambers. The writing of this book affected Weinstein so much he left academia to set up a foundation to help the U.S. goverment build democracy around the world. He recently wrote a sequel, "The Haunted Wood", about the history of Soviet espionage in the U.S. during the '30's and '40's.

A Compelling Case

Having grown up in the 1950s, for me the Alger Hiss spy case was wrapped in a lot of emotion and few facts. This book remedies that imbalance. Author Allen Weinstein is a lawyer making a case, and he does it well. He lays out the evidence in detail--great detail--and lets the reader draw conclusions, without hiding his own. I can now see both why Hiss became a liberal cause and why Chambers was despised. It is a case where the good guy is far more likeable than the bad guy. I came away convinced, as many others have been, of Hiss's guilt. Extensive research, balanced arguement and clear prose make the case compellingly.

The Definitive Judgement on a Long Running Controversy.

In 1948, lawyer Alger Hiss made what was arguably the biggest mistake of his life: he sued Whittaker Chambers. Chambers had publicly accused Hiss of having been a Communist Party member, Soviet spy, and agent of influence. Unfortunately for Hiss, Chambers had saved some of the material Hiss passed him for transmission to Soviet Military Intelligence. Alger Hiss ended up in prison, was disbarred, and spent the rest of his life trying to convince people a fantastic conspiracy had framed him. In 1971, Hiss made a mistake almost as large: he let an honest man look at his defense files. Historian Allen Weinstein had previously believed that Hiss was innocent. But when he read what Hiss's lawyers said in private, and what FBI agents had written J. Edgar Hoover, he found there was no reasonable doubt possible anymore. Hiss had spied for the Soviets, and Chambers had usually told the truth to the best of his ability. Chambers had sometimes lied, but only when he attempted to minimize Hiss's guilt -- and his own, for Chambers had secrets about himself to protect, and a well founded fear of being the messenger killed for bearing bad news. PERJURY is a fascinating account of two complex men, best friends who became mortal enemies when one split with Stalinism, and the other remained faithful. The lives of Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers would have been interesting even if they had never met or publicly clashed. Their long duel caught them in "A tragedy of History," as Chambers put it. PERJURY tells that story better than anyone before or since. It's a masterpiece of historical detective work. When it was published originally, all but the die hard apologists for Stalinism conceded Hiss's guilt. The new edition has recently released material from the National Security Agency's Venona decryptions, and the KGB's Moscow files that destroy even the unreasonable doubts. My highest recommendation.
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