EX-COMMUNIST WITNESSES by Herbert L. Packer

EX-COMMUNIST WITNESSES

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A legal scholar takes a long, dispassionate look at the four witnesses most publicized in the Communist hearings and trials of the late 40's and 50's, and comes up with well-organized criticism on the methods of gathering information for such trials. The four witnesses are Whittaker Chambers, Elizabeth Bentley, Louis Budenz and John Lautner, and conclusions are drawn from the 200,000 pages of their testimony. The Chambers story proves the most interesting, partly because of the cloak-and- dagger atmosphere that surrounded the Alger Hiss case, and partly because embers of that case still seem to smoulder in the news. The controversial Hiss typewriter, the Ware Communist Cell, and the strong element of public opinion in the case are all reexamined closely. The same is done with Bentley and the Remington case; Budenz of the Daily Worker and his attacks against Owen Lattimore; and finally Lautner and his voluntary submission of evidence against the CP to the FBI. In writing this very readable book, the author accomplishes two things. First he gives us a kind of summary of those terrible times when the hearings were taking place. And secondly, he questions the efficiency of the hearing process, casts doubt on the way witnesses are used and why they are used, and argues for a better fact-finding system in such a crucial legal area.

Publisher: Stanford Univ. Press