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Whittaker Chambers

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  • Book review: 'The Fear Within' by Scott Martelle

    Book review: 'The Fear Within' by Scott Martelle
    In his cogent, nuanced account of the 1949 prosecution of American communists under the Smith Act, former Los Angeles Times staff writer Scott Martelle sees this case fitting into a troubling pattern. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the Patriot Act of 2001, he writes, "The United States has a habit of convulsing with fear during times of stress, and in the process undercutting the very freedoms of speech, political belief and religious expression that Americans profess to hold dear." The concerns that prompt this fear are real, Martelle stresses: There were communist spies in the 1940s, and there are terrorists at the turn of the 21st century. The steps taken to deal with them have generally been hasty and ill-considered, giving the government broad powers with unintended consequences.
  • Alger Hiss -- a case for our time

    Alger Hiss -- a case for our time
    Fifty-eight years ago today, Alger Hiss -- the defendant in an emblematic Cold War prosecution once called "the trial of the century" -- began serving a federal prison sentence for perjury. Until his death in 1996, Hiss maintained that he had never been a...

    The life and fate of Alger Hiss remains a hot topic among readers

    "The other curious thing about the Hiss case is the psychology of believing that Hiss was a spy, which requires abandoning much of what we know about rational thought." — Newspaper columnist Molly Ivins in 1996 I knew that my Alger Hiss column...

    Who was the most partisan media baron before Rupert Murdoch invented Fox News?

    One of the great things about getting a chance to read history is that you quickly learn that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Liberals spend an inordinate amount of time brooding over the formidable media...