About

This is the official website of Whittaker Chambers.

Whittaker Chambers (1901-1961) was an American writer and editor. Born in Philadelphia, he grew up in Lynbrook, Long Island, and studied at Columbia. In 1925, he joined the Workers Party of America (a legal cover for the Communist Party) and worked as an editor at the Daily Worker newspaper and New Masses magazine (1926-1932). In 1932, he joined the Soviet underground as an agent, eventually running a spy ring in Washington, DC.

After defecting in 1938, he joined TIME magazine, where he rose to senior editor (1939-1948). In 1948, Chambers appeared under subpoena before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) as a Federal witness in what became the Hiss Case (1948-1950). He worked briefly for the nascent National Review. He died two years later on his Westminster, Maryland, farm before publishing more.

Chambers’s memoir Witness (1952) became a best-seller. During the 1920s and 1930s, he translated more than a dozen books from German and French (including Bambi, 1928). There are two unauthorized books of his private letters (Odyssey of a Friend, Notes from the Underground). His wife published a second memoir, Cold Friday (1964) posthumously.

The Hiss Case launched the career of a young Richard Nixon, while Chambers himself has become an icon among Conservative adherents due largely to the efforts of William F. Buckley, Jr. Chambers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1984, and his farm went on the National Historic Register in 1988.


[Whittaker Chambers before HUAC on August 03, 1948]

 

25 Responses to About

  1. […] today, TIME magazine published a controversial article edited by its then Foreign News desk editor, Whittaker Chambers. It analyzed the recall of U.S. general Stilwell from China as head of the Chinese nationalist […]

  2. […] Benn Steil‘s book The Battle of Bretton Woods contains a common mistake about my grandfather, Whittaker Chambers. (Read […]

  3. […] Benn Steil‘s book The Battle of Bretton Woods contains a common mistake about my grandfather, Whittaker Chambers. He did not defect in 1938 “after a religious revelation”. He left for a variety of […]

  4. […] got him a longer term job at the Treasury. Sometime after this, White began passing information to Whittaker Chambers, a GRU agent. One memorandum in White’s handwriting survives, and though it contains little […]

  5. […] describes Whittaker Chambers more simply as a “senior editor at TIME magazine… called by the House Committee on […]

  6. […] seven decades ago, Whittaker Chambers wrote TIME‘s cover story “Christmas […]

  7. […] holds the Whittaker Chambers Farm “private property, not open to the public.” Further, Whittaker Chambers (my grandfather) never claimed his farm meant much to the outside world. He described it as […]

  8. […] Bedacht, the man who recruited Whittaker Chambers into the Communist underground, died 50 years today on July 4, […]

  9. […] for Commonweal magazine, Whittaker Chambers continued his musings on the meaning of history with this article in September 1952. After some […]

  10. […] what turned out to be his final article for National Review, Whittaker Chambers predicted Google (he mentioned “googols) and the Internet as he described the modern marvels […]

  11. […] of Whittaker Chambers‘s last articles defended the rights of Alger Hiss: read “The Hissiad: A […]

  12. […] one of the last pieces Whittaker Chambers wrote for National Review, he turns again to the space race, whose missiles threatened human […]

  13. […] whether White was involved in espionage, perhaps it is worth revisiting early insight from Whittaker Chambers (my grandfather). Although in Witness he tended to write off White like other New Dealers — […]

  14. […] the 1958 elections, Whittaker Chambers recalls “a peculiarly braced sobriety” for a Democratic sweep the 1952 elections, […]

  15. […] Review printed an article on the 50th anniversary of Whittaker Chambers‘ death that the Whittaker Chambers Family found most disappointing. As its author has updated […]

  16. […] Whittaker Chambers reminisces about the (then) late Mrs. Leon Freedom AKA Virginia Freedom of Baltimore, who bumped in him in a Baltimore department store, starting “Mr. C? I must talk to you.” […]

  17. […] Whittaker Chambers was born this day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: today would be his eleventy-first birthday. […]

  18. […] UN speech by President Dwight Eisenhower sparked Whittaker Chambers to express continued concerns for crises in the Middle East, which he connected to the […]

  19. SallyVee says:

    Hello Mr. Chambers.

    My husband and I are both nearly finished reading Witness.

    I feel like the teenage Jewish kid who tried rather pitifully to express his gratitude and respect for your grandfather. It’s impossible to describe how deeply moving and informative I find the book. I am right now avoiding finishing the last 50 or so pages because I don’t want it to end and because my affection for Whittaker Chambers is so great. Silly, but true.

    Along the way I’ve been transcribing sections here and there, and emailing to friends. This is the most recent excerpt I chose, and perhaps my favorite of all:

    [excerpt from page 617]

    There was another heavy pause. I knew that there must be something that Luce wanted to tell me or ask me, but I was too weary to help him. Suddenly he said, “I’ve been reading about the young man born blind.”

    […] “No, no,” Luce said impatiently, “I mean the young man born blind. It’s in the eighth or ninth chapter of St. John. They brought Our Lord a young man who had been blind from birth and asked Him one of those catch questions: ‘Whose is the sin, this man’s or his parents’, that he was born blind?’ Our Lord took some clay and wet it with saliva and placed it on the blind man’s eyes so that they opened and he could see. Then Our Lord gave an answer, not one of His clever answers, but a direct, simple answer. He said: ‛Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.’ ”

    Slowly, there sank into my mind the tremendous thing that Luce was saying to me, and the realization that he had brought me there so that he could say those words of understanding kindness. He was saying: “You are the young man born blind. All you had to offer God was your blindness that through the action of your recovered sight, His works might be made manifest.”

    In the depths of the Hiss Case, in grief, weakness and despair, the words that Luce had repeated to me came back to strengthen me.

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