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Ghosts on the Roof (Library of Conservative Thought) Paperback – January 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews


"[Ghosts on the Roof] is an important contribution to history and to literature. It will do . . . much to restore the correct perspective. . . . A superb rediscovery of the artistry of a great figure."

—William F. Buckley, Jr. "The world knows Whittaker Chambers best as a philosopher and a hero of liberty. Because of Ghosts on the Roof, it will be reminded that he was also a first-rank critic, an incisive stylist, and all in all one of America's greatest journalists. Terry Teachout's valuable collection will go directly to my most easily reached bookshelf, right next to the well-worn copies of Witness and Cold Friday."

—Richard Nixon "Ghosts on the Roof is an important book. . . . Chambers writes with distinction, compassion, and authority."

—Hilton Kramer "This book is a treasure chest for admirers of Whittaker Chambers such as myself."

—Robert Novak  

About the Author

Terry Teachout is a member of the editorial board of the New York Daily News. His writing appears in The American Scholar, Commentary, High Fidelity, Musical America, National Review, The New Criterion, The New Dance Review, and The Wall Street Journal.

Milton Hindus, a founding member of the Brandeis University faculty, served as the Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities until his retirement. He is the author of Irving Babbitt, Literature and the Democratic Culture and has contributed to leading periodicals throughout the world.


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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Conservative Thought
  • Paperback: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560008350
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560008354
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,698,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Whittaker Chambers (1901-1961) was a controversial literary and political figure of the 20th Century.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chambers grew up in Lynbrook, NY, and studied at Columbia University. In 1925, he became a communist, editing the _Daily Worker_ newspaper and _New Masses_ magazine. He joined the Soviet underground (1932), defected during the Great Purge (1938), and hid with his family for a year. He joined _TIME_ magazine, where he rose to become a senior editor (1939-1948). In August 1948 under subpoena before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), he named former Federal officials as part of a Washington-based network. By September 1948, only Alger Hiss continued to deny those allegations. During legal proceedings, Chambers brought forth evidence (e.g., the "Pumpkin Papers") that led to Hiss's indictment, trial, and conviction (1948-1950). After the Hiss Case, he joined the editorial board of nascent _National Review_ (1957-1959).

Chambers's memoir _Witness_ (1952) was a best-seller, serialized in the _Saturday Evening Post_ and _Readers Digest_ and read aloud by the author on NBC radio. His wife published further essays as _Cold Friday_ (1964). Others have published his writings and articles: _Odyssey of a Friend_ (1969), _Ghosts on the Roof_ (1989), and _Notes from the Underground_ (1997). To support himself while both communist and defector, the polyglot Chambers translated more than a dozen books from German and French (1928-1939), including _Bambi_ (1928).

President Ronald Reagan awarded Chambers the Medal of Freedom (1984) and added the Whittaker Chambers Farm to the National Register (1988).

More information (including video, audio, and articles) is online: http://www.whittakerchambers.org/

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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on March 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
For forty years the accepted establishment view of Whittaker Chambers was that of a fat, rumpled weirdo, obsessed, presumably for some kind of degenerate sexual reasons, with the destruction of Alger Hiss, a man who was in every way his better. Even the publication and excellent sales of his extraordinary memoir, Witness, could not erase that caricature from the minds of the elites. I remember a PBS miniseries about the Hiss case, which must date from the late 70's or early 80's (I checked; it looks like it was, fittingly, broadcast in 1984), which portrayed Hiss as a victim, if not an outright innocent. But then the pendulum began to swing :
-First came the 1978 publication of Allen Weinstein's authoritative book, Perjury : The Hiss-Chambers Case, which convinced most of the holdouts of the guilt of Alger Hiss.
-Then, in 1984, Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Chambers the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
-Five years later came this collection of the journalism of Whittaker Chambers, Ghosts on the Roof, which began the process of restoring his literary reputation.
-The fall of the Soviet Union unleashed a flood of government secrets from both US and Russian files which exposed both the extent and success of Soviet efforts to penetrate the US government, media and Hollywood in the 30's & 40's and peace groups in the subsequent decades.
-In 1995, the VENONA intercepts were revealed, with their decoded messages confirming that the Rosenbergs and Hiss, among others, had been Soviet agents.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. Setliff on April 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent anthology of Whittaker Chambers' writings from his moonlighting as a communist journalist to the period after his fall out with the Reds. He follows his subsequent migration to Time and his days penning for the National Review. If you've read and enjoyed his autobiography, Witness, than you will probably enjoy this book.
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