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Witness | [Whittaker Chambers]

Witness

First published in 1952, Witness came on the heals of America's trial of the century, in which Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss, a full-standing member of the political establishment, of spying for the Soviet Union. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

First published in 1952, Witness came on the heals of America's trial of the century, in which Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss, a full-standing member of the political establishment, of spying for the Soviet Union.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (86 )
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4.4 (53 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Susan Benicia, CA, USA 03-04-10
    Susan Benicia, CA, USA 03-04-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great history about Communism"

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louis rockledge, FL, USA 10-24-09
    Louis rockledge, FL, USA 10-24-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Very engaging listen"

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randy LANCASTER, CA, United States 10-20-11
    Randy LANCASTER, CA, United States 10-20-11 Member Since 2010

    Auto Repair shop owner. I love Yoga, and playing my Fender Stratocaster. I Walk my dogs twice a day.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The smear has been prefected"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eunice Harrodsburg, KY, United States 08-04-10
    Eunice Harrodsburg, KY, United States 08-04-10 Member Since 2007
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    "I concur - One of the best on Audible!"

    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!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn G. Bennett Evansville, IN 07-06-12
    Carolyn G. Bennett Evansville, IN 07-06-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Compelling!"
    If you could sum up Witness in three words, what would they be?

    Compelling, religious, political.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What about John MacDonald’s performance did you like?

    I liked the reading. However, there were times when I heard faint noises in the background and this was a bit distracting.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Wheaton, IL, United States 10-24-11
    Walter Wheaton, IL, United States 10-24-11 Member Since 2005

    Conservative Catholic Curmudgeon

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    "A spiritual and political American classic"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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