Feb 19
New Blog, New Books, and New FOIA rules

This is the first entry in a blog that I hope those interested in matters relating to the Hiss case will find both useful and enjoyable. I’ll keep you posted on new research and information as well as relevant news tidbits. I am also writing a book on the case, and in the next few days I’ll be posting what I think is exciting news about the book. In order to encourage a dialogue on the case, all the entries are open to constructive comments.

Two new books on the Hiss case have been announced for the first quarter of this year. Yale University Press is publishing “Alger Hiss and the Battle for History” by Susan Jacoby, the author of most recently “The Age of American Unreason,” which The New Yorker called “a cogent defense of intellectualism.” According to the Yale catalogue, in her new book on Hiss, Jacoby “positions the case in the politics of the post–World War II era and then explores the ways in which generations of liberals and conservatives have put Chambers and Hiss to their own ideological uses.”

An article in The New York Times by Sam Roberts announced that Yale is also publishing a new examination of the Hiss and other Cold War cases by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr. Their latest effort, “Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America,” is written with Allen Weinstein’s former collaborator on “The Haunted Wood, Alexander Vassiliev. A description on the Amazon.com Web site calls the book “stunning” and says it is “based on KGB archives that have never come to light before.” However, Vassiliev’s participation would indicate the work is based on notes he had taken while working with Weinstein and later secreted out of Russia after he emigrated to Great Britain in 1996. Had Roberts checked with this site before writing that the new book confirms Hiss’s guilt, we would have told him that the notes contain old news and excerpts from this data , including the controversial Gorsky list and Perlo list — both of which were said to implicate Hiss as a spy — are already discussed in detail on this site. It will be interesting to see to whom The New York Times Sunday Book Review section — edited by Sam Tanenhaus, the author of a favorable biography of Whittaker Chambers, assigns its review — if it decides to do so.

Last week, I wrote an article for The Nation’s Web site suggesting that the new administration should reevaluate the current treatment of FOIA requests. Perhaps the new president reads The Nation. One of his first acts was to issue an order imposing new rules on government transparency in regard to the FOIA. Here’s the story that is potentially great news for our own pending FOIA suit for records on the Hiss Case.

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