He looked as unprepossessing as a baker—a calm, pudgy little man who kept an old pipe in the pocket of his untidy blue serge suit. But his looks were deceiving. Whittaker Chambers, a senior editor of TIME, a Quaker, was a brilliant intellectual. Before 1938, he had been a Communist courier for the Soviet "apparatus" in Washington, D.C.

Sitting in the jammed, floodlighted congressional committee room last summer, he made his enormous, softly worded accusation—that Alger Hiss, a former high State Department official, had also been a Communist. The nation was shocked. Hiss shocked it again. He...

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