Book Reviews


Book Review Section

By Allen Weinstein

The 1978 publication of Allen Weinstein's "Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case," was seen by many members of the press and other reviewers as the final word on the case, that Alger Hiss was guilty as charged. However, when Victor Navasky of The Nation checked Weinstein's sources, he found inconsistencies, historical inaccuracies, and quoted sources who said Weinstein had misquoted them.

  • Victor Navasky vs. Weinstein in The Nation

  • Letters to The Nation challenge Weinstein's sources

  • Victor Navasky's review in The Nation of the 1997 revised edition of "Perjury" - includes new information about Noel Field

  • Hiss-case researcher Jeff Kisseloff looks at some of the evidence Weinstein found in the files of the FBI and the Hiss defense.

  • Oklahoma City attorney Stephen Jones, a former member of the Nixon administration, and a former Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, analyzes Weinstein's scholarship in an article that appeared in the Oklahoma Law Review.

  • David Levin looks at some of the documents that Weinstein claims show Alger Hiss to be guilty and finds they point to the opposite conclusion. Click here to read Levin's "Gaps in Narratives of the Hiss Case."

By John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr

Miriam and Walter Schneir explain the history behind the Venona files. Click here for their account.


By Ann Coulter

In this bestselling book, the Hiss case serves as the lynchpin for Ann Coulter's arguments that since World War II, Democrats have been aiding America's enemies. Jeff Kisseloff finds over 100 errors in her chapter on the case. Click here to read the report or here download it as a pdf.

Alger Hiss and the Battle for History
By Susan Jacoby

In a book that is replete with errors of facts and distortions, Susan Jacoby attempts to put the Hiss case in its historical context for Yale University Press's "Icons of America" series. Click here for the review.

Book Jacket for Tanenhaus' Biography of Chambers

Whittaker Chambers
By Sam Tanenhaus

David Levin was a leading scholar of American literature and history, a biographer and a poet. He approached the Hiss case skeptically, convinced at first that Alger Hiss was guilty as charged. Levin offers a critical analysis of Sam Tanenhaus's "Whittaker Chambers" and admonishes the author for accepting Chambers' own story at face value. Click here to read his review.

By Whittaker Chambers

In 1973, then President Richard M. Nixon hired Charles Alan Wright, then a professor at the University of Texas Law School, to represent him in his battle to keep the Watergate tapes from the public. Twenty two years before, Wright wrote an article in the University of Minnesota Law Review, in which he declared that the conviction of Alger Hiss was a miscarriage of justice. In 1952, he again took issue with the verdict, this time in a review of "Witness" that appeared in the Saturday Review. Click here to read the review.

David Levin (1924-1998), who was Thomas Jefferson Professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, discusses and compares three firsthand accounts of the Hiss Case: Richard Nixon's "Six Crises," Whittaker Chambers' "Witness" and Alger Hiss's "In the Court of Public Opinion," while also explaining how and why he came to believe in Hiss's innocence. Click here to read Levin's essay, originally published in 1976 in the Virginia Quarterly Review.


The Secret World of American Communism
By Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov

William A. Reuben comments on "The Secret World of American Communism" and its claims that Soviet spies permeated the American Communist Party.

The Sword and the Shield
By Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew

Amy Knight argues that the new literature on Soviet espionage may be less revealing than it appears. 

Alger Hiss's Looking-Glass Wars
By G. Edward White

Jeff Kisseloff responds to this new biography which purports to explain Hiss's alleged lifelong patterns of denial and duplicity. 

Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America
By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev

Jeff Kisseloff reviews this new book which claims that the Hiss case is now "closed" as a result of information in the notes taken taken by Alexander Vassiliev when he was shown records of Soviet intelligence operations in the United States.

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