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Malcolm Cowley

A noted literary critic and historian who was drawn into the Hiss case in 1940 when Whittaker Chambers contacted him about reviewing books for Time magazine. Cowley recorded their conversation in his diary, noting among other things that Chambers said that Francis B. Sayre, Alger Hiss's boss in the State Department and Woodrow Wilson's son-in-law, was connected to the Communist underground. 

Cowley also noted the horrible condition of Chambers' teeth (Hiss would later be ridiculed for making similar comments eight years later) and that Chambers told him he had left the Communist Party in 1937. (Click here to read more about the controversy surrounding the date.)

Chambers, who had in his possession State Department documents which had been in Sayre's office, would later say those papers came from Hiss, Sayre's assistant. In subsequent statements, Chambers did not link Sayre to the underground. 

Cowley testified for the defense at both trials and later said his testimony for the defense significantly damaged his career. To hear Cowley talk about his conversation with Chambers, click here.