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Witness (Cold War Classics) Paperback – December 8, 2014
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About the Author
After early years as a Communist Party member and Soviet spy, he defected from communism (underground and open party) and worked at Time magazine. Under subpoena in 1948, he testified in what became Alger Hiss's espionage trials and he became an outspoken anti-communist (all described in Witness). Afterwards, he worked briefly as a senior editor at National Review . President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Medal of Freedom posthumously in 198
- Publisher : Regnery History; Reprint edition (December 8, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 718 pages
- ISBN-10 : 162157296X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1621572961
- Item Weight : 1.59 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #45,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Many of the Communist intellectuals of the 30's shared Chambers disenchantment with the Party. The Italian novelist Ignazio Silone and the great Arthur Koestler edited a very informative work on the subject "The God that Failed". But no other work matched the personal description of Chambers. The book deals not so much with the two trials of Alger Hiss on a perjury indictment and concentrates more on Chambers's life, up to 1950, and his testimony and Hiss's statements before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, and the Manhattan Grand Jury which indicted Hiss.
Of course some readers will have a negative view of the work of the Committee, and one of the heroes of the book Richard Nixon(!!), but I urge them to put that aside and read this book. There really was serious Communist infiltration of the American Government and Hiss really was guilty. B I've always been a staunch anti Communist and Chambers's testimony was the beginning of the end for the Soviet "apparatus" in the US. Nevertheless, his description of the party faithful of his era actually led me to develop a grudging respect for the dedication and personal sacrifices which they made in furtherance of their misguided beliefs. The reader must remember that the World looked very different in the 1930s. Chambers came to this realization in 1938. This led him to realize that he had a moral obligation to denounce those of his former comrades who were still working against his Country. Finally, much of what Chambers wrote of is still relevant today. My highest recommendation.
The best feature of the book, however, is Mr. Chambers discussion of how and why he turned to communism as the only possible solution to the woes of the world. He was an exceptionally intelligent man, and in his view, there was no other possible choice. In a word, despair led him to believe that communism was the best vehicle to solve the problems of mankind. In fairly short order (10 years), he realized that once communists were in power, they tended to lean heavily on the 'ends justify the means' approach as millions starved or were executed (or worked to death). He later turned to Biblical Christianity as the best hope for mankind, fully aware that there are no easy solutions to the dilemma of existence.
This book did have an influence on my understanding of history and on how decisions are made. It a very real sense, it impacted my life.