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Whittaker Chambers: A Biography (Modern Library)by Sam Tanenhaus
Synopses & Reviews
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.
The National Book Award finalist and critical favorite, now in paperback.
On its original hardcover publication, Whittaker Chambers received a cavalcade of wonderful reviews. In The New York Times, Richard Bernstein said it is "remarkable...the kind of writing that can keep you propped up against your pillow late at night" and The Wall Street Journal described it as "magisterial".
Whittaker Chambers is the meticulously researched and finely balanced biography of a complex, enigmatic figure who is essential to any understanding of twentieth-century American history. Sam Tanenhaus leads us through the life of Chambers, the radical writer who became a Soviet agent and a defector and then returned to the mainstream as an editor at Time magazine and emerged as a dominant voice in the cold war anti-Communist movement. At the center of the book, Tanenhaus has used new sources to document Chambers's pivotal role in the Alger Hiss case.
Whittaker Chambers offers us, for the first time, a full portrait of this many-sided and misunderstood man, and at the same time provides a riveting history of many of the most important events of the century.
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