Alger Hisss Looking-Glass Wars: The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy

Paperback | June 9, 2005

byG. Edward White

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For decades, a great number of Americans saw Alger Hiss as an innocent victim of McCarthyism--a distinguished diplomat railroaded by an ambitious Richard Nixon. And even as the case against Hiss grew over time, his dignified demeanor helped create an aura of innocence that outshone the factsin many minds. Now G. Edward White deftly draws together the countless details of Hiss's life--from his upper middle-class childhood in Baltimore and his brilliant success at Harvard to his later career as a self-made martyr to McCarthyism--to paint a fascinating portrait of a man whose life was devoted toperpetuating a lie. White catalogs the evidence that proved Hiss's guilt, from Whittaker Chambers's famous testimony, to copies of State Department documents typed on Hiss's typewriter, to Allen Weinstein's groundbreaking investigation in the 1970s. The author then explores the central conundrums ofHiss's life: Why did this talented lawyer become a Communist and a Soviet spy? Why did he devote so much of his life to an extensive public campaign to deny his espionage? And how, without producing any new evidence, did he convince many people that he was innocent? White offers a compellinganalysis of Hiss's behavior in the face of growing evidence of his guilt, revealing how this behavior fit into an ongoing pattern of denial and duplicity in his life. The story of Alger Hiss is in part a reflection of Cold War America--a time of ideological passions, partisan battles, and secret lives. It is also a story that transcends a particular historical era--a story about individuals who choose to engage in espionage for foreign powers and thesecret worlds they choose to conceal. In White's skilled hands, the life of Alger Hiss comes to illuminate both of those themes.

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For decades, a great number of Americans saw Alger Hiss as an innocent victim of McCarthyism--a distinguished diplomat railroaded by an ambitious Richard Nixon. And even as the case against Hiss grew over time, his dignified demeanor helped create an aura of innocence that outshone the factsin many minds. Now G. Edward White def...

G. Edward White is David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. His books include Oliver Wendell Holmes: Law and the Inner Self and several other works of biography and law. His father-in-law, John F. Davis, served as Alger Hiss's counsel in a 1948 hearing of the House Un-American Activi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 5.91 × 8.82 × 0.91 inPublished:June 9, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195182553

ISBN - 13:9780195182552

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"Should be the final and definitive history of the famous case. Brilliantly written and massively researched, White's deeply understanding analysis of Hiss's obsessive, life-long and at times almost successful efforts to repudiate the charge of treason should convince all but those to whom hisinnocence has become a matter of dogma."--Louis Auchincloss