The View from Alger's Window: A Son's Memoir

Front Cover
Knopf, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 241 pages
1 Review
This powerful and moving memoir opens a new perspective on one of the most controversial and still talked-about figures of the century.
Using his father's letters from prison--three a week, two pages long, were allowed--and other family letters never before made public, as well as the recollections of friends and relatives, Tony Hiss moves back and forth in time to tell the story of Alger Hiss's life, and of his own experience as a young boy swept up in the turmoil of the trial that signaled the opening of the Cold War.
For the first time we go behind the public persona of Alger Hiss--the Oliver Wendell Holmes law clerk, the idealistic New Dealer, the founding Secretary-General of the United Nations, the defender of his innocence against Whittaker Chambers's charges of spying for the Soviet Union. For the first time we meet the man his family and friends knew as warm and witty, honest to a fault, intellectually searching, and enormously giving to those he loved. For the first time, too, we hear from Alger's stepson, Timothy Hobson, a boy of ten in the thirties when the disputed events occurred, who tells his side of the story.
Tony Hiss was just turning seven in 1948 when the charges against his father surfaced, and we see how he and his mother tried, with varying success, to cope with what was happening to them as fair-weather friends, and income, and jobs, dropped away. We also see how the friends who did remain created a protective bubble around them, enabling them to survive. And finally we learn how, almost miraculously, Alger's letters and the prison visits brought Tony and his father closer than they had ever been, and how perhaps the whole experience gave Alger Hissa kind and common touch he had previously lacked.
The View from Alger's Window is a revelatory opening into one of the defining episodes of post-World War II America, poignantly evoking an entire era. It is also the record of a father's sensitive, against-all-odds efforts to make the unbearable possible for his young son, and the son's loving--but always clear-eyed-- tribute to his father.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

The view from Alger's window: a son's memoir

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Fifty years ago, the Hiss case transfixed the country and launched the political career of Richard Nixon. Whether or not Alger Hiss was a spy has been the subject of numerous books, but beginning with ... Read full review

Review: The View from Alger's Window: A Son's Memoir

User Review  - Lois - Goodreads

Beautiful book, very touching and well researched. Read full review


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3

13 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (1999)

Tony Hiss is the author of nine previous books, including the award-winning The Experience of Place. He began writing for The New Yorker in 1963, and his work has appeared in many other publications, including the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, and Gourmet. He is a Visiting Scholar at the Taub Urban Research Center at New York University, and he lectures frequently about how people are affected by their physical environment.

He and his wife and son live in New York City.

Bibliographic information