A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."" That, in a phrase, sums up Smith's scenario--Alger Hiss was guilty of...

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ALGER HISS: The True Story

A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."" That, in a phrase, sums up Smith's scenario--Alger Hiss was guilty of nothing but obstinate pride in believing that he could match wits with the cocky young Nixon and the creative liar Whittaker Chambers. Smith covered the original HUAC hearings for the New York Herald Tribune and, in addition to interviewing Hiss and many others, he has assimilated such previous studies as Zeligs' Friendship and Fratricide; he builds his case slowly and deliberately, though skeptics may be disturbed by the extent to which he relies on Hiss' unsupported word in the early, biographical chapters. Don't expect bombshells. The hard evidence is slow in coming and can be bewilderingly technical when it comes: an analysis of bureaucratic procedures proving that others besides Hiss could have swiped the Pumpkin Papers; expert opinion that the famous Woodstock typewriter can't be definitely linked to the papers at all and that Mrs. Hiss probably couldn't have typed them anyway. Few will be able to work their way through so much evidence and still reject the frameup theory; otherwise, the arguments simply fuel one's curiosity. Smith's hypothesis of how Chambers could have taken and copied the papers himself is tantalizing but unproved; a miasma of false trails still emanates from the Woodstock, leading perhaps to the FBI, perhaps to Nixon. . . who knows? Smith's is an important if exasperatingly slow-starting contribution, well timed to sharpen already renewed interest in the Hiss case. Certainly the most complete investigation yet--the next best thing to a solution.

Pub Date: March 22, 1976

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1976