This is a book review.
Published in 1997, this 520 page study of Chambers is an essential supplement to the Chambers autobiography which has already been reviewed on this website. Tanenhaus has had the many years since 1952, when Witness? was completed and published, to cover Chambers? post-trial years until 1961 when he died, and to be aware of many more facts. These include the later confessions of other ex-Communist spies and the revelations from the archives of former Iron Curtain countries.
Readers should be aware that Tanenhaus is a Leftist and he cannot resist down-playing the red menace of the postwar years and impugning base motives to almost all of those who led the attempted purge of Communists from government. He is especially uncharitable to Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. However, to do justice to Tanenhaus, he is too objective to attempt to cast doubt over Alger Hiss’? guilt and will not have endeared himself to that great army of Leftist academics who care nothing for facts and who rewrite history for propaganda purposes. One point that Tanenhaus, along with all commentators, misses is the significance of Chambers? Homosexuality. It seems wholly possible that Chambers? Embrace of Communist underground work in the 1930s? enabled him to indulge his craving for sodomy with anonymous partners. He was able to enjoy a secret life in more than one sense. Chambers? Breaks with both Communism and homosexuality and his subsequent shame about both fuelled his commitment to marriage and family and to his native country and its Christian-based freedom. In his last years (Tanenbaum reveals) Chambers increasingly viewed the struggle with Communism as a moral/religious one and not as an economic struggle between free markets and Socialist planning. The divide between religious conservatives and economic conservatives remains and greatly weakens the current struggle against the Leftist Media Class.