Whittaker Chambers

Whittaker Chambers, 1901–61, U.S. journalist and spy, b. Philadelphia. He joined the U.S. Communist party in 1925 and wrote for its newspaper before engaging (1935–38) in espionage for the USSR. He left the party in 1939 and began working for Time magazine. In 1948 he testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, accusing Alger Hiss, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former State Dept. official, of being a Communist party member. Hiss sued for libel, and Chambers then accused him of having been part of an espionage ring. Chambers, now being promoted by Congressman Richard Nixon, led investigators to his Maryland farm, where he produced from a hollowed-out pumpkin State Dept. documents he alleged Hiss had given him. Hiss was indicted for perjury, and after two trials was found guilty (1950) and imprisoned. The case was extremely controversial, and both men were vehemently attacked and defended.

See Chambers's autobiography, Witness (1952, repr. 1983); A. Cooke, A Generation on Trial (1950, 2d ed. 1952); R. Seth, The Sleeping Truth: The Hiss-Chambers Affair Reappraised (1968); A. Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case (1978); S. Tanenhaus, Whittaker Chambers (1997).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Whittaker Chambers: Selected full-text books and articles

Rumbles Left and Right: A Book about Troublesome People and Ideas By William F. Buckley Jr G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers" begins on p. 185
Men, Women, and Issues in American History By Howard H. Quint; Milton Cantor Dorsey Press, vol.2, 1975
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "McCarthyism: Everyman as a Potential Subversive: Harry S. Truman, Whittaker Chambers, Joseph McCarthy"
States of Perfect Freedom: Autobiography and American Political Thought By Philip Abbott University of Massachusetts Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Judging: Whittaker Chambers and Lillian Hellman"
Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties By Murray Kempton Simon and Schuster, 1955
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "The Sheltered Life: The Partnership of Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers"
Our Times: The Best from the Reporter By Max Ascoli Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960
Librarian’s tip: "The Lives and Deaths of Whittaker Chambers" begins on p. 162
Still Seeing Red: How the Cold War Shapes the New American Politics By John Kenneth White Westview Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Hiss, Chambers, and the Politics of Symbols" begins on p. 50
Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations By Richard C. S. Trahair Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Whittaker Chambers begins on p. 46
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