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Odyssey of a Friend

Odyssey of a Friend [PDF]

Whittaker Chambers born Jay Vivian Chambers and also known as David Whittaker, was an American writer and editor. A Communist party member and Soviet spy, he later renounced communism and became an outspoken opponent. He is best known for his testimony about the perjury and espionage of Alger Hiss.

In 1952, Chambers's book Witness was published to widespread acclaim. The book was a combination of autobiography, an account of his role in the Hiss case and a warning about the dangers of Communism and liberalism. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called it one of the greatest of all American autobiographies, and Ronald Reagan credited the book as the inspiration behind his conversion from a New Deal Democrat to a conservative Republican. Witness was a bestseller for more than a year and helped pay off Chambers' legal debts.

Chambers's book Witness is on the reading lists of the Heritage Foundation, The Weekly Standard, and the Russell Kirk Center. He is regularly cited by conservative writers such as Heritage's president Edwin Feulner.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Chambers the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his contribution to "the century's epic struggle between freedom and totalitarianism." In 1988, Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel granted national landmark status to the Pipe Creek Farm. In 2001, members of the George W. Bush Administration held a private ceremony to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Chambers's birth. Speakers included William F. Buckley Jr.

In 2007, John Chambers revealed that a library containing his father's papers should open in 2008 on the Chambers farm in Maryland. He indicated that the facility will be available to all scholars and that a separate library, rather than one within an established university, is needed to guarantee open access.

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