Alger Hiss (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Few trials have so divided politically aware Americans as did the prosecution of Alger Hiss during the Red-baiting days of the early Cold War. And, largely because of Hiss’s continued protestations of innocence, none has lingered for so long as a topic of highly emotional debate. John Chabot Smith, a journalist with a good eye for detail and an excellent feel for the texture of the times, has given us a spirited defense of Hiss. The result is a well-written volume which captivates the reader but which in the end fails to convince one of Hiss’s innocence.
Alger Hiss was a scion of Baltimore’s shabby gentility, and his early career was an exercise in success. After a dazzling undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins—Phi Beta Kappa, president of the student council, ROTC cadet commander—he went on to Harvard Law School and to the ultimate reward of a clerkship under Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. When the New Deal beckoned, Hiss left a good job with a prestigious New York law firm and enlisted in Roosevelt’s war against the Great Depression. His government service continued the pattern of achievement which had been the hallmark of his early years. He worked first in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and then moved on to a distinguished career in the Department of State. Once again, reward followed accomplishment, and in 1946 Hiss was named President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
(The entire section is 2257 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Best Sellers. XXVI, June, 1976, p. 92
Commonweal. CIII, December 3, 1976, p. 791.
New York Review of Books. XXIII, April 1, 1976, p. 14.
New York Times Book Review. April 25, 1976, p. 31.
Publisher’s Weekly. CCIX, January 12, 1976, p. 48.
Wall Street Journal. CLXXVII, March 22, 1976, p. 14.
(The entire section is 36 words.)