A GENERATION ON TRIAL by Alistair Cooke
Kirkus Star

A GENERATION ON TRIAL

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The second report on the contemporary cause celebre, the Hiss-Chambers case, (and Whittaker Chambers' more suspect version will also appear this fall), this is based on the actual records (here quoted extensively), is far more interpretative and intelligent in its insights than the de Toledane and Lasky Seeds of Treason However de Toledano and Lasky, who got there fustest with a fairly hurried mostest, may be difficult to dislodge from an established position on the best seller list. In any case, there should be a place for this with the more critical as well as the comparative reader. Cooke, who is less partisan than de Toledano and Lasky, shared with many the ""instinctive preference"" for Hiss as against Chambers which was to be shaken by the immutable evidence, does not exclude (which they did) the details injurious to Chambers, an untidy, brooding, ex-Communist. He gives in complete detail the records from the first accusation to the indictment to the first trial, and the sections of the second trial which introduced new tactics, new testimony. There is a profile presentation of the judge, the jury, and the counsels in each, and there is an important introductory analysis of the political climate of the 30's and the 40's, the indifference of the one as against the quickly nettled hysteria of the spy scare we are now riding. And at the close, in spite of the conviction, there is just a suggestion of the lingering doubt which still remains, the illogical imponderable of a crime which was out of keeping with the character of the man convicted.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1950
Publisher: Knopf