Hoover Releases Third Edition of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, Featuring New Material on One of Nation’s Most Controversial Espionage Cases

Monday, April 15, 2013
Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case by Allen Weinstein
Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case by Allen Weinstein

Hoover Institution Press today released the third edition of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case by Allen Weinstein. Perjury, the definitive account of the trial of former State Department and UN official Alger Hiss, was first published in 1978. The trial involved allegations that Hiss had lied under oath before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in claiming he was not a Soviet agent and member of the Communist Party, as alleged by Time magazine editor Whittaker Chambers, who admitted to being both.

The latest edition of Perjury unveils new material on many of the major figures in the case and the author’s personal interactions with them while researching the book. Six new narrative vignettes offer a new perspective on critical players like then member of Congress Richard Nixon, whose political career gained national prominence through his pursuit of the Hiss allegations, as well as information from KGB documents released after the end of the Cold War. 

Following its publication, Perjury was widely praised by historians, journalists, and analysts:

  • “A historic event…stunningly meticulous, a monument to the intellectual ideal of truth stalked to its hiding place.” Columnist George Will
  • “The most objective and convincing account we have of the most dramatic court case of the century.” Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
  • “So far as any one book can dispel a large historical mystery, this book does it, magnificently.” Garry Wills, New York Review of Books

While writing Perjury, Weinstein drew on FBI documents released for the first time through the Freedom of Information Act, the files of the Hiss defense attorneys, and numerous interviews with involved parties and with Hiss himself.

Validating Weinstein’s thorough and convincing argument for Hiss’s guilt, Perjury also highlights the political and cultural forces at play during the trial and for decades after that made the case a touchstone for leaders across the political spectrum. Although more than half a century has passed since the jury at Alger Hiss’s second trial found him guilty of perjury, those same issues continue to feed the fires of modern political debate today.

Allen Weinstein served as archivist of the United States from 2005 to 2009.  In 1985, he founded the Center for Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit, and remained its president until 2003.  Weinstein has held professorships at Boston University, Georgetown, and Smith College. He received the United Nations Peace Medal in 1986, the Council of Europe’s Silver Medal twice (in 1990 and 1996), and the Edgar Allan Poe Special Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his original edition of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, which historians consider  one of the most important books on the case. His previous books include The Story of America; Freedom and Crisis: An American History; Prelude to Populism; and The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—the Stalin Era.

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