NR Digital

Still Guilty

by Kevin D. Williamson
Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason, by Christina Shelton (Threshold, 352 pp., $26)

It is unlikely that we ever will have a proper reckoning of the American Left’s culpability in the worldwide Communist enterprise — the gulags and laogai, the Stasi, the Holodomor, the 100 million corpses. It is a testament to the perversity of human nature that in the two main political efforts to uproot Soviet agents from U.S. institutions, the villains in the popular mind are not those who enabled the enslavement of entire nations but the imperfect men who tried to stop them. We never had a Nuremberg trial for Communists — we would have had to hang too many veterans of the Roosevelt administration. Instead, we had the perjury case of Alger Hiss. And we keep having it.

Christina Shelton, a former analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, has produced a new study of the case. In the course of her rigorous and carefully documented analysis, she offers a persuasive explanation not only of why Hiss chose treason but of why so many others did as well. It is a rare thing: a good book about an important subject.

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