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Alger Hiss’s Looking Glass Wars by G. Edward White

- Abstract

Lost Innocence Alger Hiss’s Looking Glass Wars:The Covert Life of a Soviet Spy by G. Edward White
Oxford. 286 pp. $30.00
Reviewed by Mark Falcoff

In 1948, Whittaker Chambers, an erstwhile Communist-party member and Soviet spy, came forward to accuse Alger Hiss, a former State Department official, of having been a partner in espionage on behalf of Moscow during the 1930’s and 40’s. The charge stunned official Washington and indeed the entire United States.

At the time, Hiss was the suave, even elegant, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in New York and a pillar of the American foreign-policy establishment. Chambers was an uncomely and virtually unknown journalist. Yet at a trial two years later, the evidence persuaded a jury to believe Chambers; Hiss, the former State Department “golden boy,” was convicted of perjury and sentenced to confinement for 44 months in the U.S. correctional facility at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. (The only reason Hiss could not be tried on the more serious charge of espionage was that the statute of limitations had expired.)

About the Author

Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.