In this penetrating philosophical memoir, Chambers recounts the famous case as well as his own experiences as a Communist agent in the United States, his later renunciation of communism, and his conversion to Christianity. Chambers' worldview - "man without mysticism is a monster" - helped to make political conservatism a national force. Witness packs the emotional wallop and the literary power of a classic Russian novel and has gained Chambers recognition by critics on both sides of the spectrum as a truly gifted writer.
©1952 Whittaker Chambers; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"One of the few indispensable autobiographies ever written by an American - and one of the best written too.... It deserves to be recognized as a first class achievement." (New Centurion)
"Confession, history, potboiler - by a man who writes like the literary giant we would know him as, had not Communism got him first." (Christopher Caldwell, National Review, 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century)
"This many-dimensioned apologia, which is also a spy drama, a Quaker testament, and a spiritual autobiography, telescopes the major political and religious conflicts of the century." (Booklist)
I paid attention in history class, but Whitaker Chambers was never mentioned in my education. I knew about Alger Hiss and Senator McCarthy's pursuit of communists, but I didn't know about Chambers until I heard a Princeton professor discussing him on a C-Span book review show. I have never read a non fiction work with such a soul searching narrative of how a man becomes a communist, what it means to be a communist, how the communist party operated in the US in the 1930s and 40s, and how difficult, lonely and terrifying it is to leave the communist party and be persecuted by the liberal media, the government and public opinion. Whitaker Chambers is a great writer and a very courageous man, and in the end his allegations against Hiss triumph but not without a great personal sacrifice. I was deeply moved by his story and his courage.
One of the reviews which sold me on this listen stated that this was perhaps the best book on Audible. I totally concur. Whittaker Chambers is an amazing writer with a compelling story to tell. The narration is excellent. The history of the Communist Party in the US explains some things about the political landscape today. Chambers is an engaging unassuming individual with insights one can only gain through personal turmoil. Pure excellence!
Once I started this book I could not stop. It is both frightening and hopeful; frightening because of how fragile and gullible we human beings are, and how easily we can lose our sense of right and wrong so that swallowing lock, stock and barrel some infinitely insane philosophy seems like the right thing to do. Hopeful because basically I believe human beings are good and smart and really do know right from wrong, even if it takes them a while to figure it all out. I hope we all figure it out before it is too late. Please please please read this book so you know how to recognize what is happening to America even now. I know you are basically good. Don't lose track of that!
Auto Repair shop owner. I love Yoga, and playing my Fender Stratocaster. I Walk my dogs twice a day.
When Hiss attacked Chambers and made the seriousness of the charge his weapon, Chambers documented this political method well.
It isn't just a 60 or 70 year-old historybook; you can see the modern smear from calling GWB "shrubb," to the art of the political attack we now see as our Wall Street prosters in vilifying the rich and successful.
This is an ancient war and Chambers makes this a timeless classic you must read.
Compelling, religious, political.
Whittaker Chambers, the author, is a very complicated man. We hear how his basic principles lead him first to become a Communist, then to reject it, and later to become a Quaker.
I liked the reading. However, there were times when I heard faint noises in the background and this was a bit distracting.
It made me want to continue listening when I should be doing something else. This was even in the part when the testimony of Alger Hiss repeated whose "to the best of my recollection" statements were tedious and maddening. I learned of the importance of Richard Nixon and Henry Luce. I wanted to check up on these men in addition to other information on Whittaker Chambers.
This is one of the most engaging books I have gotten from Audible. Chambers writes with such skill that you have to envy his mastery of style and wish you could match it. MacDonald does a superb job in reading the book.
Of course, it is an apologia, and towards the end Chambers annoys with his strange reluctance to simply give straight testimony. But his linguistic ability never falters.
This book is worth listening to for the quality of the prose alone. The depth of its narrative is equal to Darkness at Noon. Chambers' character is marked by great courage and decency.
Conservative Catholic Curmudgeon
Surely one of the all-time classic American autobiographies, covering a pivotal chapter in American history.
Johnny Cash used to sing a song, written by Shel Silverstein, that told the story about what happened when a boy was named Sue. This book could be regarded as the story about what happened when a boy was named Vivian.
I recommend this book to everyone! Witness is beautifully written and still valid half a century later. Josh MacDonald's performance is solid.
It's scary to hear this inside account of how far Communist spy's infiltrated government. It's scary to think of the influence they've had and the people they've put in powerful positions.
There are a few parts of the book that you can skip since the author went off on a tangent.
- his childhood up to the part where he joins the Communist party
- after Alger Hiss gets convicted he goes on random storytelling about his family life and starlight?
Everything else is indispensable. His stories of spying in the apparatus was the best part of the book. Definitely read this.
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