By the time Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers stood up to each other in public last week, it was clear to everyone that they had known each other quite well in the mid-'30s. Those were the days when Hiss was publicly on the rise as a bright young New Dealer and Chambers was an undercover Communist agent. The point which the House Un-American Activities Committee wanted to demonstrate was that—as Chambers had testified—they had been Communists together.

Hiss stoutly continued to deny the charge. But he had backtracked once before. He had first denied ever having known Chambers, then...

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