Letters to the Editor

From The Nation, June 17, 1978


The letters which follow, selected from among the mass of mail we received regarding Weinstein-on-Hiss, constitute something of an informal interim report on the case, the book and the lawsuit against Weinstein, his publisher and possibly The New Republic.


Sam Krieger, a Communist Party organizer for three decades, lives today in a quiet house on a quiet street in Rohnert Park, Calif., where Allen Weinstein came to visit him in 1974. Five weeks later, Krieger received a strange letter that as he now looks back on it began the noise in his life.

The letter was from Isaac Don Levine, the lay pope of American professional anti-communism, and its message was bewildering. Levine wrote that Krieger's adopted little daughter, Natasha, had arrived in America from the Soviet Union and was anxious to be reunited with him. It was obvious that Levine thought Sam Krieger was Clarence Miller, a leader of the 1929 Gastonia textile strike who, with six comrades, fled to Russia (against the wishes of the American party leadership) to avoid serving a seventeen-to-twenty-year term for a second-degree murder conviction arising out of strike violence in Gastonia. The red-haired Miller was installed in a comfortable Moscow apartment and taught political classes. He became known as the Red Professor. He also came to know the mother of a little girl named Natasha.

Sam Krieger wrote Isaac Don Levine that he was barking up the wrong Clarence Miller. That was in 1974. He never heard another word.

In "Perjury,"Krieger, who back in the 1920s recruited Chambers into the party, is identified as the fiery textile strike leader who fled to the Soviet Union under the name Clarence Miller. This serves Weinstein's melodrama by making Chambers's recruiter a more sinister and important figure in the party than the lowly Sam Krieger who was at that time the circulation manager of the Yonkers (N.Y.) Statesman.

Who, then, were Weinstein's sources on Krieger/Miller? When I called him, he said one was a woman who heads a refugee program in New York. Weinstein did not give me her name. She had given Krieger's address to a mysterious Russian woman: She told me the young woman found him and they had a sad reunion, Weinstein said. He sounded genuinely moved. I told him that Krieger said there had been no such visit. He shrugged over the phone.

The other source, he said, was an anti-Communist journalist. Was he Isaac Don Levine, I asked. Why yes, it was, he said. I told the professor that I had talked to his source just that morning and that Levine had said it was Weinstein who had told him Krieger was Miller, not vice versa.

There was a silence on the phone. That's weird, Weinstein said. Well I have what he said in my notes. It's all here. You're welcome to come look at them.

I wrote an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reporting Isaac Don Levine's recantation and the statements of two men, Alden Whitman and Sender Garlin, who had known both Krieger and Clarence Miller back then and said that there wasn't a ghost of a chance that the two were the same. Bridgeport police records supported Krieger's assertion that he was arrested for party work in Bridgeport in 1934 when Clarence Miller was in Russia.

If Weinstein is right in his repeated identification of Krieger as Miller, then Sam Krieger is a fugitive from justice and a murderer.

On May 24, Sam Krieger filed suit against Allen Weinstein in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeking general, punitive and special damages. In addition to demanding $1 million from Alfred A. Knopf, Weinstein's publisher, the suit asked the court to enjoin Knopf from identifying Krieger as Miller in any future printing of "Perjury" and demands that errata slips be sent by the publisher to bookstores throughout the country to be inserted in copies already bound.

Krieger asks damages of $2 million for Weinstein's statements in The New Republic that he has Krieger on tape not denying that he was Clarence Miller. Krieger said he told Weinstein exactly the opposite, on tape. In addition, Krieger says that Weinstein gratuitously misquoted his opinions about Hiss and Chambers in The New Republic.

Krieger's lawyers are Doris Walker of Oakland and John Clancy of San Francisco, who has represented the Esalen Foundation and Hunter S. Thompson. Clancy said that The New Republic had been given sixty days to retract Weinstein's statements about Krieger. If they refuse, the magazine will be named as a defendant, Clancy said.

These false statements, says the suit, are libelous on their face and clearly expose the plaintiff to hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame, fear and loathing, in that a convicted murderer who has fled to avoid serving his sentence is not viewed as your ordinary good neighbor.


In one of his defenses of "Perjury," Allen Weinstein rounded on me as a recanter on the apparent ground that I had told Victor Navasky I could not remember talking with Priscilla Hiss's former sister-in-law in 1974 about whether Mrs. Hiss had denounced her husband at a 1968 dinner party. Weinstein thereupon quoted in part from a letter he says I sent him in late 1974.

When I retired from The New York Times two years ago and moved out of New York, my files on the Chambers/Hiss case were irretrievably dispersed. Noting this fact, I wrote Weinstein on May 12 asking for Xerox copies of all my private letters and memorandums in his possession. I offered to pay the costs of copying. In view of Weinstein's repeated professions of scholarly openness, such a request should have been honored. I was not totally astonished, however, that he did not respond to my letter, inasmuch as he had quoted from my private letters and memorandums as a source for a number of allegations in "Perjury" without my permission, consent or knowledge.

In footnotes in the book, he says the quotations and citations he used are by courtesy of Alden Whitman. Nothing could be further from the truth. The implication that I cooperated or collaborated with Weinstein in the research or preparation of "Perjury" is false. I did not see the book in any form until I received a bound copy shortly before its official publication date.

I leave it to your readers to characterize Weinstein's behavior and to judge to what degree it accords with standards of scholarship that prevail generally in the history profession.

Because Weinstein has used my private letters and memorandums without permission and has thus miscast me as a willing participant in his book, I have taken advice and put Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., the publishers of "Perjury," on notice. I have asked Knopf to give me an undertaking to excise from future printings or editions of the book, including any paperback editions, all citations bearing my name. I naturally pointed out to Knopf its failure to exercise prudence in finding out whether Weinstein had the permission of the owner of the contents of private letters and memorandums to make use of them. Under common law copyright, as your readers may know, the contents of the correspondence belong to the writer.

I would not burden your readers with this recital of my dealings with Weinstein save for the fact that he has made a public issue of his scholarship and his veracity. It occurred to me that your readers should not believe that everyone shares Weinstein's astigmatic self-view.


The Nation, as Allen Weinstein points out in "Perjury," has been foremost in keeping alive the hope that Alger Hiss could be proved innocent. This political investment, however, does not justify Victor Navasky's misrepresentation of the historian's case. A crucial example is the editor's account of Josephine Herbst's testimony about the Ware group. He charges Weinstein with omission-distortion because (1) she never used the word stolen; (2) she believed the documents possessed by the Ware group were trivial and intended for The Daily Worker, not Moscow; (3) she knew John Herrmann's apartment was not used for developing photographs while she was there.

But Herbst did say, as Weinstein quotes her testimony, that she had seen in the apartment certain documents that had been taken from government offices by members of the cell and brought to the apartment for transmission to New York. (p. 138.) She was not claiming that the group was authorized to transmit these documents; the absence of the word stolen, therefore, is a mere quibble by the editor. Weinstein's fairness is revealed by his noting that Chambers recalled no such espionage work being done in 1934 by members of the Ware group, whose major functions, he believed, were to recruit more Communists within the government and to influence government policies. (p. 140.)

Weinstein himself, moreover, makes the editor's points that she thought the material was "innocuous" and believed that "'no direct contact existed between our group and Soviet authorities.'" (p. 138.) As Weinstein points out, however, she did not know of Chambers's work for the Red Army's Fourth Branch. The historian also notes that, while no pictures may have been developed while she was in Herrmann's apartment, she lived there only for three months in 1934 and hence could not speak about Chambers's possible use of the quarters for espionage work - his and not the Ware group's - at other times. (p. 140.)

The editor's distortion by omission is capped, by his ignoring the critical fact: Herbst told Hiss's lawyers that Chambers and John Herrmann regarded Hiss as an important prospect to solicit for the purpose of getting papers. (p. 141.)

The evidence is clear that Chambers, Herrmann and Ware, as Weinstein concludes, all told Josephine Herbst in mid-1934 that they were already in touch with Alger Hiss, trying to recruit him for espionage more than six months before Hiss claimed to have met Chambers under more innocuous circumstances. (p. 141.) If the editor can challenge this crucial conclusion, let him do so, rather than throw dust in the reader's eyes by misrepresenting Weinstein's account and slandering his character as a historian.

Note from Victor Navasky:

In his zeal to defend Allen Weinstein's brief, Professor Strout seems to be guilty of the sort of carelessness which has made "Perjury" such a dubious guide to the complications of the Hiss case. First, he refers to Josephine Herbst's testimony about the Ware group, even as Weinstein referred to her depositions. In fact, all of the evidence from Miss Herbst is in the form of FBI interviews, interviews with Hiss's lawyers or private correspondence.

In fact Herbst said several times that she didn't believe pictures could have been developed in the tiny Ware apartment because it lacked a closet and the bathroom was totally impractical for developing purposes.

Finally, Professor Strout seems oblivious to the bottom fact about Weinstein's treatment of Herbst: that by citing her statements out of historical context, he tries to use her second- and third-hand impressions (it is difficult to say which, given Weinstein's inadequate footnoting system) of the so-called Ware group in 1934 as evidence of espionage in 1937 or 1938. Especially since Herbst had no direct knowledge of Hiss one way or the other, this seems a clear abuse of the record.


In newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews over the past several months, Allen Weinstein has repeatedly said that what clinches his case against Alger Hiss (the strongest incriminating evidence) are memos he found in Hiss's own lawyers' files. According to Weinstein, this evidence establishes that early in December 1948 Hiss knew of the whereabouts of the Woodstock typewriter he had owned in the 1930s, that he lied about this knowledge to the FBI, the grand jury and even to his own lawyers, and that thereafter, for five months, with his brother Donald and Mike Catlett, the son of a former maid, he engaged in a conspiracy to prevent anyone - government investigators and even his own lawyers - from finding the Woodstock typewriter.

Having spent a quarter of a century studying the Hiss case, and in particular having interviewed all the available witnesses with knowledge of the typewriter, something that Professor Weinstein, for all his vaunted research and scholarship neglected to do, I can confidently declare these allegations by Weinstein to be patent nonsense, complete distortions of the record. For the purpose of economy, let me restrict myself to Weinstein's ludicrous charge that Donald Hiss and Mike Catlett attempted to suppress knowledge about the whereabouts of the typewriter (a typewriter which in any case the government later claimed was useless for its prosecution of Alger Hiss).

My research establishes that from the time the Hiss Woodstock was brought to the Catlett house, sometime between December 1937 and April 1938, until it or what is claimed to be the same machine was recovered at the home of Ira Lockey, Sr. in April 1949, the typewriter was used or possessed by twenty-four persons, none of whom, except for Pat and Mike Catlett, was known to Alger Hiss or to any member of his family. In that eleven-year period, the machine was kept in no less than twelve, and possibly as many as eighteen, different locations.

The reader of "Perjury" is told little about these complications and therefore is unable to appreciate the overwhelming difficulties facing Donald Hiss and Mike Catlett as they tried to follow this trail after eleven years. Contrary to Weinstein's assertion, Donald Hiss never knew that Ira Lockey possessed the typewriter in 1949. Rather than covering up such knowledge, Donald Hiss persistently returned to Lockey's house, no less than six times, in his quest for the typewriter, and each time Lockey denied possession. Donald Hiss finally and justifiably wrote this lead off as a dead end when, directed by Lockey, a hunt through a junkyard produced only an old Royal typewriter. Contrary to what Weinstein says, Donald Hiss kept Alger Hiss's lawyer, Edward McLean, fully informed about all these searches.

Fred J. Cook (The Nation, May 12, 1962) makes the intriguing point that the sudden and mysterious appearance of the typewriter in April 1949 may have been connected with an FBI visit to Ira Lockey, Sr. in February 1949 after Donald Hiss's continuously frustrated efforts. In any case, there is no conceivable basis for Weinstein's charge that Donald Hiss and Mike Catlett withheld knowledge from Alger's lawyers that the typewriter had been traced to Ira Lockey.

Allen Weinstein's account, which ignores almost all of this history, is indeed the strongest incriminating evidence but it is further evidence against the credibility.


I am employed as a researcher by the National Emergency Civil Liberties Foundation. I have been spending considerable time on Alger Hiss's pending petition for coram nobis, so I am obviously not a disinterested bystander in the dispute over Allen Weinstein's "Perjury." Since the NECLF office houses the complete Hiss defense files as well as thousands of pages of FBI documents on the Hiss case, I have been able to compare these records with Allen Weinstein's alleged documentation for his charges against Alger Hiss. I have discovered, literally, more than 100 serious errors of fact in "Perjury," some of which were discussed in Victor Navasky's review. But Navasky's demonstrations of Weinstein's unfounded allegations and sweeping distortions could be multiplied manifold from the available evidence.

Take, as an example, the question of whether Alger Hiss knew about the location of the Woodstock typewriter in December 1948 and lied about this knowledge to the grand jury and to his lawyers. Weinstein's sole evidence for this charge is an ambiguous letter written December 28, 1948 by John Davis to Edward McLean. Navasky has demonstrated that on its face the letter does not support Weinstein's charges against Hiss, and that, far from being certain about the whereabouts of the typewriter, the Hiss investigators were searching in many different locations.

But Navasky doesn't cite the strongest evidence in this regard, a defense memorandum dated the same day as the Davis letter, December 28, 1948, which clearly demonstrates that Hiss had no clear recollection of what happened to the old Woodstock, and that his suggestion to Davis (that it may have been given to the Catletts) was only one of several possibilities that had occurred to him. Under the caption, "What Happened to the Typewriter," five investigative leads which the defense intended to pursue are listed:

(i) Check all typewriter dealers and repairmen in Washington, Baltimore, Westminster and Lynbrook.

(Ii) Check Hiss maids and their relatives ... Catletts.

(iii) Relatives and friends of the Hisses to whom it may have been given.

(iv) Charities, such as the Salvation Army and self-help organizations.

(v) Hiss remembers that he reported a theft to the Washington police in 1939 or 1940. . . . This should be checked.

And, as Navasky pointed out, the January 21, 1949 memo, entitled "Oral Report from Mr. Schmahl Today," demonstrated that the defense had indeed spent the previous month checking out all these possible locations. But of course Weinstein did not attempt to present all the evidence fairly in order to give the reader a chance to reach an honest judgment. Rather, as the late Matthew Josephson, winner of the Parkman Prize for history, wrote about "Perjury:" Weinstein has no sense of values as a biographer or historian to lead him through all this chaotic mass of stuff, but adopts the standards of HUAC, the FBI, Nixon even. . . . He must destroy the myth of Alger Hiss as America's Dreyfus case and save the myth of Chambers as the suffering hero who rescued America's intellectuals from Soviet communism.


Allen Weinstein introduces me several times in "Perjury" almost always in a manner which seriously distorts the truth. It would take too much space to provide you with even a reasonably complete list of his mistakes, but let me offer the following as representative of Weinstein's erroneous assertions about me or events of which I had first-hand knowledge:

On p. 91 Weinstein writes: In Meyer Schapiro's room at Columbia Chambers met a young man named Sender Garlin who was then working for Russian-American relief.

Fact: I was at no time associated with this relief organization.

On p. 103 Weinstein writes that after the death of Chambers's brother, Chambers resumed contact with Communist friends late in 1926. He adds that Chambers also remembered that "friends in the C.P. like Harry Freeman and Sender Garlin who were then working on The Daily Worker, to get me out of my mood... Urged me to go with them on that paper."

Fact: Freeman and I (who lived in New York) could not have been working for The Daily Worker in 1926 because the paper did not move to New York from Chicago until the spring of 1927. I joined the staff several months later.

In his effort to create a conspiratorial atmosphere in which Chambers and Hiss were allegedly operating, Weinstein cites a defense memorandum by a Hiss lawyer. Here (p. 382) I am quoted as saying that Chambers had disappeared in 1933 and had gone underground. Victor Navasky, in his rebuttal to Weinstein ( The Nation, May 6), quoted me accurately: Maybe the lawyer used these words, but I did not. Words like "underground" are not part of my vocabulary.

Weinstein claims that among those recognizing Chambers immediately after a decade were Sender Garlin, Josephine Herbst, Julian Wadleigh, William Edward Crane and Maxim Lieber. His footnote, No. 59, p. 596, cites HUAC 1, pp. 1004-5 (1948). This citation is a phony, for I am nowhere listed in these pages of HUAC nor are any of the other five persons mentioned, except for Nelson Frank. Questioned by Rep. Richard M. Nixon, Frank, a Red expert on the New York World-Telegram, said he recognized Chambers after a lapse of twelve years. Frank testified that he had been a part-time reporter on The Daily Worker in 1928 when he allegedly first met Chambers. Since I was city editor of The Daily Worker at the time, I can state categorically that he testified falsely on this point.

My name appears seven times in Weinstein's index and four times in his reference notes. However, at no time did he make any attempt to communicate with me to check any assertions involving me.


Belatedly I have borrowed Allen Weinstein's "Perjury" and find myself included in it as a witness. I'm not certain whether for the prosecution or defense in the case of Weinstein vs. Hiss. The consistent misspelling of my name and the description of me as former editor of The Daily Worker are inconsequential errors, whatever they may imply about the author's scholarship. There are, however, distortions about statements I made and about my past activity that require correction.

The book (pp. 381-2): "Schmahl [an investigator for Hiss's legal defense] informed McLean [Hiss's lawyer] in late January that 'through a very confidential contact' he had learned that A.B. Magill, former editor of The Daily Worker, 'knew the identity of a man with whom Chambers is said to have had an extensive affair in his younger days.' Schmahl interviewed Magill, who described Chambers's affair with Ida Dales and strongly implied that she and other women had been lesbians when Chambers took up with them. Magill also said 'that Chambers had an affair with a good-looking young boy, nicknamed "Bub" . . . when Chambers was employed on the staff of The Daily Worker.' Magill reiterated a theme that characterized the C.P. line on Chambers by this time and the unofficial comments of those Communists who volunteered information: 'Chambers was in the habit of showing Magill his manuscripts for perusal before publication.' According to Mr. Magill, 'some of those manuscripts would turn your stomach.' They were, said Mr. Magill, 'dripping with perversities, violence and weird plots.'"

The facts: I did not describe Chambers's "affair" with Ida Dales, nor did I imply that she was a lesbian. I referred to Ida Dales as Chambers's first wife. I did not say that Chambers had an affair with Bub. I told the person who interviewed me that Chambers was suspected of homosexuality, and it was in that context that I mentioned "Bub." I never said that Chambers was in the habit of showing me his manuscripts before publication. He was not. I told the interviewer that on one occasion in the summer or early fall of 1931, while I was a house guest of Chambers at his home on Long Island, he showed me two or three short stories and a poem. I was impressed with the quality of the stories, but even more impressed with their obsession with violence. I said nothing about "perversities," or about "turning your stomach," or about "weird plots."

The book: "Lieber said recently that A.B. Magill, who had provided information on Chambers to the Hiss defense, was the representative of the American Communist Party who helped him make contacts in Mexico with Eastern European embassies (Lieber and his family, after several years in Mexico, settled in Poland)."

The facts: I was not the representative of the American Communist Party in Mexico. From 1950 to 1952 I was a correspondent there, first of The Daily Worker and later of Telepress, a left-wing international news agency that folded in the latter year. During two and a half years in Mexico I was occasionally invited, as were Mexican newsmen and women, to social functions at the Czech and Polish Embassies. Maxim Lieber sought repatriation to the country of his birth, Poland, and I may have introduced him to a Polish Embassy official, though I have no specific recollection of doing so. Lieber departed for Poland more than two years after I left Mexico.


As one who was a member of the Communist underground in Washington from mid-1934 to early 1937, I find some of Victor Navasky's quoted contradictions of statements from interviews by Allen Weinstein in "Perjury" rather perplexing.

I have known personally a number of the people whose denials Navasky quotes. I would not expect one of them, if confronted with a statement published in a context unfavorable to them, to give an honest, unprevaricating response. But the case of Katherine Perlo's letter to President Roosevelt was even more puzzling.

Navasky derides Weinstein as follows: "The Washington 'underground Communist group,' headed by Victor Perlo, was 'confirmed' when 'Katherine Wills Perlo wrote an anonymous letter to the White House in 1944.'"

Here Navasky seems to be doing something strange - suggesting that Weinstein needed Mrs. Perlo's letter to prove the existence of the underground, and that anything shaky about the letter should shake any right-thinking reader's belief that there ever had been a Washington Communist underground.

He proceeds then to find the letter shaky because Mrs. Perlo was under the care of a psychiatrist, and because she added the psychiatrist's name to those of her husband and others she accused of a Communist conspiracy.

I have no information about Mrs. Perlo's psychiatrist. For all I know, he could have been a Communist. Such a choice, if made by a comrade, would have been natural. But about Victor Perlo himself and his underground activities there can be no doubt. I attended a unit meeting (we did not use the term cell) once a week for more than two years, and Vic was present surely at more than seventy of them. He was my first unit leader; how well I remember his kneeling one night drawing a map of China with different colors of chalk on a child's blackboard, while giving us a progress report on the territory gained by Chu Teh, Chou En-lai, and Mao Tse-tung.

I am not sure whether Katherine Wills Perlo is the wife I knew. If she is, the marriage has an interesting history. Vic was only 22 when I first met him in 1934. He had been a mathematical prodigy, and was brilliant at his job in the New Deal. But his development had been one-sided. The more sophisticated comrades called him socially immature, and a campaign was launched to help him try, as the rest of us were doing, according to party directives, to play the role of a proper bourgeois adult. Always an earnest and literal-minded adherent to party decisions, Vic appeared, within weeks, proudly leading a blonde bride. He established her in a little country house and even produced a baby. Vic's wife never seemed a natural as a Communist, and I am not surprised, if this Mrs. Perlo is the same woman, that she became fed up with the party and its demands.

But whoever she was, whatever her mental condition in 1944, however she phrased her accusation, the Washington underground not only existed but was used, to my knowledge, for stealing documents from government agencies. I myself carried out such an assignment, admittedly a harmless one for I had no access to secret information, but performed by means of stealthy, illicit entry and the rifling of an official's files, for practice. But my husband, whose breakdown and death may have been due to the conflicts caused by his conspiratorial activities, was leader of one of the most productive of the five-member units that made up our part of Hal Ware's group. He himself regularly went to the New York waterfront to give a party contact confidential information from his job in the shipping division of the labor board of NRA, later of the National Labor Relations Board. Everyone in Hal Ware's group had accepted the directive to get whatever we could for the party to use in any way it saw fit.

Note from Victor Navasky:

What appears above is a second draft. When Hope Hale Davis called to ask whether we were printing her letter I assured her we were, but observed that she had misconstrued my point, which had to do only with Weinstein's deficiencies as a scholar. In a footnote on p. 22 of "Perjury" he refers to an anonymous letter sent by Mrs. Perlo "to the FBI" which accused her husband of "espionage." In fact the letter was sent to the President and said nothing about espionage. On hearing this, Hope Hale Davis said, "Oh, I forgot to put in the espionage part," and a few days later her addendum arrived with the final paragraph amended to include the espionage part.

If Davis is accurate in her memory, however, she has provided further evidence of "Perjury's" carelessness, for Weinstein neglected to include her name along with others he listed as members of the Perlo and Ware groups.


I have read with interest the account of your efforts to verify, at Mr. Weinstein's invitation, his quotes or summaries of certain taped interviews.

Your experience comes as no surprise to me, as my reading of the book (I have only been able to struggle through half if it so far) indicated clearly that, while posing as a scholar whose search has revealed hitherto unknown facts, Mr. Weinstein has merely taken existing material, and by clever use of the English language makes every correction of prior testimony by Alger Hiss sound as if he had been forced to retract a lie while at the same time misquoting Whittaker Chambers so that subsequent changes would not appear to be changes at all.

I refer you for instance to page 47 where Weinstein says that ". . . Hiss adjusted his testimony . . ." whereas in his portrayal of Whittaker Chambers he not only plays down changes (see page 19) but in one striking instance actually misquotes Chambers on a vital point, so that no later correction will be necessary. I refer in this instance to Chambers's testimony before HUAC, commencing with a prepared statement on August 3, 1948 and repeated frequently until he found it necessary to change his story toward the end of August 1948. (See page 5 where Mr. Weinstein writes that Chambers said he left the party in 1938 whereas in fact, Mr. Chambers said he left the party late in 1937.) This of course, is a crucial "correction" of the facts by the author, since assuming Mr. Chambers was correct when he said that he left the party in late 1937, the documents he produced dated February and March 1938 could not have come from Alger Hiss.

However, annoying as I find Mr. Weinstein's deliberate manipulation of the reader's impression of the respective truthfulness of Mr. Hiss and Mr. Chambers, I am even more put out by his unscholarly habit of appearing to append verification of an otherwise unsupported statement referring the reader to a footnote at the back of the book which, when consulted, fails to confirm the statement footnoted: page 186, footnote 63; page 194, footnote 81; page 196, footnote 1; page 197, footnote 3; page 215, footnote 41; page 319, footnote 27.

These are but some of the defects I picked up, having neither the time nor the patience to check each footnote, but even these discrepancies are sufficient to give "the lie" to the current propaganda that Mr. Weinstein, through his outstanding scholarly efforts, has finally "proven" that Alger Hiss is guilty.


I felt an eerie sense of deja vu when I read in The Nation that Allen Weinstein reneged on his promise, even dare, to have Victor Navasky inspect his "Perjury" archives. Apparently, Weinstein didn't have the nerve to turn away Navasky himself and had his wife perform this graceless task at the door of their Washington home. I consider this breach of a promise, made with great bravado on television, a mark of dishonor. It raises the question whether such a man can write honest history. For I don't think an historian's character is unrelated to his product. For example, Weinstein despises personal contretemps. He is extremely uncomfortable in situations, private or public, where he is strongly challenged. In other words, he has a difficult time coping with unpleasantness. This personality trait would be of no matter in a medieval historian, but it hurt Weinstein's research immensely. His fear of confrontation prevented him from presenting evidence to principals in the Hiss case. I was with him when he told Alger Hiss in his last interview that he thought Hiss was guilty. Although extremely nervous, Weinstein went on to say that he possessed documentary evidence proving Hiss had lied when he said that he had no independent recollection of the whereabouts of the Woodstock typewriter. But did Weinstein show the accused his documentary evidence as any cub reporter would have done? No. Nor did he have the courage to face Mrs. Hiss with an allegedly incriminating letter. Nor did he allow Donald Hiss to comment on his alleged role in hiding the Woodstock typewriter from the FBI. Weinstein constantly wraps himself in the nonpartisan mantle of an objective historian. Yet he failed at crucial times to let the witnesses to history speak in his book. Why? I repeat, it's a matter of character. How can I make these statements? I was once Weinstein's friend. My feeling of deja-vu relates to another betrayal of promise that likewise bears on the question whether Weinstein can write honest history.

My story is a footnote to "Perjury." My dispute with Weinstein has nothing to do with Hiss's guilt or innocence. It is irrelevant to history, but I judge not to the current imbroglio regarding Weinstein's methods that is his reliability as an historian. As I wrote Weinstein recently, I happen to believe in the book if not in you. I would not write those words today even though I think Hiss is guilty.

It would take more space than it is worth to give the full story of the dealings between Weinstein and myself on the news rights to "Perjury" which persuade me that his character must be an element in anyone's judgment of his work on the Hiss case. Weinstein had given me exclusive news rights to the discoveries he claims to have made in the course of his research for his book. I was to make them public in a long prepublication interview.

Weinstein reneged on this verbal contract. I had, with Weinstein's approval, arranged for the exclusive interview to appear in Politicks six weeks before the book's publication date. After I made this deal known to Weinstein, he allowed his agent to sell the news rights to Time without so much as telling me or Tom Morgan, editor of Politicks. The handling of this matter is now before the Ethics Committee of the Society of Authors' Representatives at my instigation.

When I faced Weinstein with this betrayal he offered to send me a check from his Time fee to compensate for my small Politicks payment and said he would make amends to Politicks. Knopf is going to hate me for this by calling a press conference in its offices to answer any and all questions regarding "Perjury." I declined the former and Morgan the latter. Weinstein thought he could cover his dishonor with a check and some publicity. He concluded by saying that he hoped he could salvage our friendship and would come up for dinner the following night. As with Navasky, he never showed.

And so I come back to my original question. Can such a man write honest history? I'm not sure. Navasky demonstrated that Weinstein has fiddled with evidence, overstated facts and covered up ambiguities in order to fit his view of the case. I see certain parallels in Weinstein's personal behavior. And so I would not be surprised if the character that broke promises both to Navasky and me, when it suited his purposes, also betrayed history in "Perjury" where it suited his purposes.

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