What Chambers Can Teach Us
Whittaker Chambers is rightly remembered for his pivotal role in the electrifying Alger Hiss spy case. But as Richard Reinsch reminds us in the latest volume in ISI Books’ acclaimed Library of Modern Thinkers, Chambers was more than just a government informant; he was a profoundly important thinker who grappled with the nature of modern man’s predicaments.
Whittaker Chambers: The Spirit of a Counterrevolutionary shows that Chambers’s thought posed—and still poses—a challenge to American conservatism and its typical focus on markets and small government. In his journalism, essays, personal correspondence with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr., and landmark autobiographical tome Witness, Chambers engaged more broadly, analyzing the fundamental question of who man is and the classical and spiritual foundations of civilization.
Defying conventional thinking, Reinsch argues that the former Communist spy may have been more right than wrong when he predicted that the West would lose the Cold War. While the Soviets’ Communist system did of course collapse, the spiritual and philosophical sickness that Chambers identified, Reinsch suggests, has not been cured.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
“Reinsch points to Chambers’ deep devotion to the role of G-d in the war between Communism and freedom…. Hopefully my readers will take the opportunity to read Richard Reinsch’s work on Chambers and to further their research by reading Chambers’ actual works. One thing I can assure you ,you will come to better understand current world and domestic events today by reading and learning from Chambers life’s experiences and the views he came to espouse.” —The Jewish Star
"Richard Reinsch's book made me go back and read Witness for the first time." —The New Criterion
“Eloquent and engaging . . . Whittaker Chambers: The Spirit of a Counterrevolutionary is intended by Mr. Reinsch as ‘an act of recovery, one that would weave together the strands of an enduring Chambers for future reflection.’ In this he has succeeded admirably.”—Washington Times
“It’s taken over 60 years, but someone has finally written a great book about Whittaker Chambers.”—The Daily Caller
“Reinsch’s book does more than just recount the history of Chambers. . . . Reinsch argues the spiritual emptiness within the western world that worried Chambers persists.”—Politics Daily
"Reinsch has crafted an important and essential book for anybody fatigued with the daily grind of hyper-partisan politics. By reintroducing conservatives to a deep thinker like Chambers, he reminds us of the limits of politics as well as the frustrating shallowness it can embody.”—Acton Institute PowerBlog
“Reinsch’s brief study touches on the biographical but his real interest is in Chambers as a thinker. Drawing not just on Witness but on his subject’s journalism for Time and Life and extensive personal correspondence, including with Buckley, Reinsch reveals a Chambers who thought deeply about modernity, freedom, and the destiny of the West, which he saw as dark indeed.” —National Review
“A solid merit to Reinsch’s short study is to suggest the many ways in which Chambers still speaks to us with relevance and urgency…Reinsch’s book is a thoughtful probe of Chambers thought and work…Chambers is above all a prophet of how, even in apparent victory, the West may fail in its true struggle by emulating Communism on every point…A fine study that will challenge and inform.”
— The City