Whittaker Chambers: A Biography

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Random House Publishing Group, Apr 20, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 656 pages
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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.

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Whittaker Chambers: a biography

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A life of the man who brought down Alger Hiss, from his years as a Soviet agent to his anti-Communist crusade after defection. Read full review



Sifting the Evidence
Sorrow Songs
Fetching a Bone
Pure Dynamite
I Can Make That Fellow President
A Man Named Crosley
I Could Not Do Otherwise
The Means of Justice
The Pumpkin Papers
Unclean Unclean
Rich Finds
The Woodstock
Alger and Priscilla
Lucifer vs the Serpent
The American Jitters
Blind Analysis
Eleven Words
Public Recluse
Close Calls
The Last Path
The Witness Is Gone
Sifting the Evidence
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