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A Conservative Hero

According to this review Richard Reinsch's new book on Whittaker Chambers is well worth reading.

I have long thought that if the politics cut in the opposite direction there would have been several biopics of Chambers by now.  You have the story of a great writer, the years in the Communist underground/ spy world, the great confrontation with the Washington establishment, the question of traditional religion in the modern world, and the problem of homosexuality.  The only trouble, from Hollywood's perspective, is that Chambers saw the evil of Communism and turned against it, testified against a Lion of the liberal establishmet, and exposed him as a Communist spy (and beyond that showed that a certain part of the Democratic coalition was, indeed, soft on Communism, to say the least), and turned away from modern, secular humanism because he saw how shallow and hollow it is. He became a leading writer for a hip, new magazine that challenged the pieties of the day (the magazine, of course, was National Review). And, finally, was able to turn away from the homosexuality that he took to be sinful, and lead a normal life as a married man.  Not the kind of story that today's Hollywood would like.

Discussions - 1 Comment

There was a two-part, four-hour PBS dramatization of the Hiss-Chambers case back around 1983 or 1984, called "Concealed Enemies," if memory serves. (In a bizarre casting choice, Peter Reigart played Nixon; Edward Hermann played Hiss; I forget the large actor who played Chambers, but he was superb--I thought he nailed him cold.) It was fairly good, and had most of the facts right, though someone I know close to the production said Hiss's people were all over the thing, trying to influence the script, etc. For some reason, the thing seems to be unavailable on DVD or even old-fashioned VHS videotape.

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