Review of Witness by Whittaker Chambers

Is a book that is over 50 years old worth reviewing? Yes. Because it is timeless and if this review provokes one person to read it, I will have done something good.

Whittaker Chambers was called to be a witness, both for something and against something. Early in his life, he was called to be a witness against the modern world and for communism. Here is a man who was desperate to fix the problems of the modern age. For a while in Chambers’ life, Marxism/Leninism/Communism was his answer and he devoted his life to the communist party. Luckily, there was a major change in the middle of his life. After years of working in the open party and then the underground espionage part of the party, Chambers left and found Christ. At that point, he became a witness against communism and for God.

In Witness, a beautifully written autobiographical narrative, Chambers recounts his life up until shortly after the Hiss case, that was to bring him fame. Here is a man whose life was completely devoted to a cause and in middle age abandoned it. It takes humility and strength to do that Readers follow the danger and struggle necessary for Chambers to depart from the party. Luckily for the reader, Chambers is a top-notch writer who worked for years as a senior editor editor at Time, and then a contributor writer  and shortly editor for National Review (I’d take either spot).

This is not just a book about the perils of communism. It’s about the tragedy of life and the beauty of God. It delves into the wonder of nature and the power one can develop from a good woman. At times the details of the Hiss case are too exhaustive. But this is a huge part of the era which is rarely discussed in classrooms. I’ve never felt so much emotion in a writing and this is non-fiction. Quite a stretch from the typical economics books I read, I’d recommend it to anyone interested in 20th century American history, the perils of communism, and faith. 5 of 5 stars.

Note- a correction has been made regarding Chambers’ roles at Time and NR.

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2 thoughts on “Review of Witness by Whittaker Chambers

  1. Actually, Whittaker Chambers was a senior editor and then special projects editor for publisher Henry Luce at TIME and later a contributor and (more briefly) an editor at National Review.

    David Chambers | http://www.whittakerchambers.org/about

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