BOOKS: SUPPORTING TESTIMONY

A BIOGRAPHY GOES BEYOND THE PUMPKIN PAPERS TO ASSESS THE TROUBLED LIFE OF WHITTAKER CHAMBERS

As a boy, he was called by the middle name that he hated, Vivian, or else by nicknames that he hated even more--"Girlie," or "Stinky," or "Mr. Chamber Pot."

His favorite book was Les Miserables, and in the family's doomed house on Earle Avenue in Lynbrook, New York, his mother kept an ax under the bed to even the odds against the murderers she imagined. His father, a sardonically unhappy bisexual, was much given to long absences; his younger brother became an alcoholic suicide. Young Vivian Chambers never went to a dentist, and by the time he grew up and began...

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