America's Dreyfus: The Case Nixon Rigged
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Every American schoolchild knows of the crimes of Alger Hiss, a man whose very name rings with villainy. Communist, spy, perjurer – all of these accusations were bandied around in public and led to Hiss’s downfall. Outside the US, Alger Hiss is less well-known, but the man who caused Hiss’s downfall, Richard Nixon, became notorious because of his own crimes in government.
Now, prize-winning thriller-writer Joan Brady has written a powerful book which demolishes the evidence against Hiss and shows how Nixon manipulated the press and public by forging evidence and riding roughshod over Hiss’s rights. Research for her book followed a long friendship with Hiss after his release from prison, and her curiosity turned to outrage when she discovered how he had been treated. But why would Nixon rig such a case? Brady explains that he needed to establish anti-communist credentials at a time of Red-hunting hysteria in the US at the time he was standing as a right-wing candidate, and Hiss was his scapegoat, just as Alfred Dreyfus in France in 1894 was convicted of espionage on a wave of anti-semitism. Dreyfus was eventually cleared of his crimes; Alger Hiss never has been.
Brady draws strong parallels with today, with the war on terrorism sometimes being used to silence or threaten critics of government policies in the US and the UK. Written in a vivid and personal style, America’s Dreyfus reads like a one of Brady’s thrillers, although every word is true.
not hope to better my lot…” A. Hiss, Recollections, p 190 “self-confidence remained boundless…” A. Hiss, Recollections, p. 190 “she’s always known, as I did…” T. Hiss. Laughing Last, p 186 “deeply embedded altruism…” Zeligs, p.173 “Isabel has, I’m sure, covered…” Personal letter: Alger Hiss to Joan Brady and Dexter Masters 14 December 1968 “All the odds clearly favour…” Personal letter: Alger Hiss to Dexter Masters, 28 Sept 1968 “was a time of intellectual aberration…” Personal letter:
1950: Randolph W Baxter, “‘Homo-Hunting’ in the Early Cold War: Senator Kenneth Wherry and the Homophobic Side of McCarthyism”, Nebraska History 84 (2003): 119-132. nebraskahistory.org “under their thumb.” “Interview with Alger Hiss – Hiss on Coram Nobis”. The Advocate, Suffolk Law School Fall 1978. Interview conducted November 2, 1978 with Joseph P Ippolito, Herbert Travers & Prof. Charles P Kindregan. Kindregan. Hoover’s coercion of witnesses well known. Roberts, Loc 2290. Condition of pages
fear of communism that gave this aimless population a substitute for what they had lost with Roosevelt’s death: something to unite against, a “them” to frighten us at night, just like the Nazis. Consumers Union got caught up in that along with hundreds of other organizations. The second reason for Dexter’s FBI file was a book he’d co-edited in 1946 with physicist Katherine Way called One World or None. The atom bomb terrified everybody. We were doomed. A nuclear holocaust was inevitable.
well as varying names. Some people thought he was German. Some Polish. Then in 1937 – that crucial year in the Hiss case – he renounced communism. As he said himself in his August 3, 1948 HUAC hearing, “In 1937, I repudiated Marxist doctrines and Lenin’s tactics.” He was terrified of the consequences; people said that assassination came quick to agents who broke with the Party. Also, as always, he needed money. An old Columbia classmate put him in touch with an English publisher who worried
Timmy’s uncertain sex life. Nobody here seems interested in any of that. Ben Mandel – HUAC’s Director of Research, the man who issued Chambers with his Communist Party card – says he saw a photograph of Alger with “his hand cupped to his ear”. “He is deaf in one ear,” Chambers says promptly. Deaf? Alger? Certainly not. His hearing was exceptionally good. Chambers adds that he was “about 5 feet 8 or 9”. He was tall, over six feet, and these guys had watched the press in the Caucus Room swarm