The View from Alger's Window is Tony Hiss's remarkable memoir of the trial and imprisonment of one of the most famous victims of the Cold War witch-hunts: his father. Tony Hiss was seven years old when Whittaker Chambers first accused Alger Hiss of passing secrets to the Russians. For the rest of his childhood, Tony and his family experienced the cruelties and intimidations of the time.
Drawing on hundreds of letters Alger sent from prison, the author counters public perceptions of Hiss and shows the fundamental decency and essential goodness of his father and, along the way, draws a compelling portrait of an innocent man. At the same time he lets us see how adversity drew this father and son together, allowing them to achieve a closeness they might never have been able to otherwise.
Beautifully written, wise, The View from Alger's Window sheds new light on a family, a time, an accusation, and a man whose guilt or innocence continues to inspire debate.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The View from Alger's Window|
|Release Date: 09-29-2010|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The View from Alger's Window
Chapter OneOn a muted, misty late-November morning in 1997, I made an unremarkable, unmarked right turn off a suburban highway strip in north-central Pennsylvania-and abruptly, a year after his death, began a strange, rewarding period of vividly renewed contact with my father, Alger Hiss. I've seen again the full person he was, his strengths and gaps and the ways he changed, and I've revisited the rich inner world that sustained him and that only a very few people ever got to see. I've been learning how much of him there is in me, particularly in areas I've liked to think were my own invention. He's also been jogging my mind, it seems, posing questions, pointing out possibilities, suggesting strategies and next steps. From out of the anywhere, it arrived-this wild rose, this lovely, sweet-smelling, prickly gift-with nothing more complicated than a right turn.
The only explicit piece of fatherly advice I can remember my father giving me was: Whatever you're going to do, get it up and running before you're seventy, because that's when the machinery inside starts to break down. Now I've collected a second piece of advice for my own son to think about someday (he's still only seven): You won't-can't-know ahead of time when some not-to-be-ignored idea may overtake you.
Since once-upon-a-time wishes, like wanting to spend more time with your father, don't expire just because you haven't thought about them for decades-the fairy tales that deal with the subject of wish-granting don't spell out all the rules, such as the fact that deliveries are erratic and unscheduled. So try not to let your calendar get too cluttered.
I don't think the...