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