Monday, June 8, 2009

Review: Jacoby says Hiss case is ultimately about us and the U.S., not Hiss

Alger Hiss and the Battle for History (Icons of America) Alger Hiss and the Battle for History by Susan Jacoby

Susan Jacoby, a former Washington Post reporter and now a keen observer of the American intellect and intelligencia, has examined the strange case of Alger Hiss and the hold that his perjury conviction nearly 60 years ago has had on the minds of the political elite for generations.

This slim volume doesn't examine the case itself. (She takes at as a given that Hiss was both a Communist and guilty of perjury.) Rather, she looks at the debate that it has engendered, and the schools of thought that divided those who thought Hiss guilty from the beginning and those who thought he was framed.

The debate, she says, wasn't about Hiss so much as it was about the New Deal, the kind of government we have, and ultimately how we view America.

Jacoby is an excellent writer with a strong hold on her sources and her interpretations. For those interested in the topic, this book is well worth the time.

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