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Extended Audio Sample Witness, by Whittaker Chambers Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.0018115942029 out of 54.0018115942029 out of 54.0018115942029 out of 54.0018115942029 out of 54.0018115942029 out of 5 4.00 (552 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Whittaker Chambers Narrator: John MacDonald Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Published in 1952 at a time when America was very much concerned with espionage coming from the Soviet Union, The Witness is an autobiography that details in depth what was once dubbed America's "trial of the century."

In this book, American writer Whittaker Chambers delves into the case of Alger Hiss, a politician whom Chambers accused of being a spy for Russia. He also tells of his own role as a Communist agent in the United States and the evolution of his own odyssey with Communism, how he eventually came to renounce it and his eventual conversion to Christianity.

Chambers' experience within the American Communist Party during and within the Soviet underground during the 1920s and early 1930s enabled him to gain insider information, eventually leading to knowledge concerning political rings within America's top political and governmental ranks.

Risking his own life, he broke with the Communist party and began exposing crimes and perpetrators of those crimes in American government.

"The Witness" covers both Chambers' own involvement and that of other prominent figures, helping bring about political change, including a growing movement toward American conservatism.

What makes this audiobook such a runaway bestseller is Chambers' talent as a writer. He is able to incorporate all those things that make a classic Russian novel with a flair for writing that has captivated audiences around the world.

Whittaker Chambers was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1901 and grew up in Lynbrook, New York. He attended Columbia University and bought into the teachings of Communism, eventually becoming a communist and joining the Soviet underground. He rose up the ranks and became a senior editor at Time Magazine. He was instrumental in naming, indicting, trying and convicting former Federal official Alger Hiss of espionage.

His renunciation of Communism and participation in bringing charges against corrupt officials led to his being awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. He has been called a "hero for any age" as a result of standing up for what he perceived as his public responsibilities despite tremendous risk to his personal life.

Whittaker Chambers’ harrowing account of his journey to hell and back—through espionage, treason, and terror—is, ultimately, a story of faith.

First published in 1952, Witness came on the heels of America’s trial of the century, in which Whittaker Chambers accused Alger Hiss, a full-standing member of the political establishment, of spying for the Soviet Union. In this penetrating philosophical memoir, Chambers recounts the famous case as well as his own experiences as a Communist agent in the United States, his later renunciation of Communism, and his conversion to Christianity. Chambers’ worldview—“man without mysticism is a monster”—helped to make political conservatism a national force. Witness packs the emotional wallop and the literary power of a classic Russian novel and has gained Chambers recognition by critics on both sides of the spectrum as a truly gifted writer.

Witness is part spiritual autobiography, part spy thriller, and part trial drama, told in a compellingly eloquent, deeply moving voice of Dostoyevskian power.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “As long as humanity speaks of virtue and dreams of freedom, the life and writings of Whittaker Chambers will ennoble and inspire.”

    Ronald Reagan

  • “Whittaker Chambers has written one of the really significant American autobiographies…penetrating and terrible insights into America in the early twentieth century.”

    Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

  • “Confession, history, potboiler—by a man who writes like the literary giant we would know him as, had not Communism got him first.”

    Christopher Caldwell, National Review, 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century

  • “Chambers had a gift for language…To call Chambers an activist or Witness a political event is to say Dostoevsky was a criminologist or Crime and Punishment a morality tract.”

    Washington Post

  • “Written with extraordinary intensity and power.”

    Yale Review

  • “One of the few indispensable autobiographies ever written by an American—and one of the best written too…It deserves to be recognized as a first class achievement.”

    New Criterion

  • “This many-dimensioned apologia, which is also a spy drama, a Quaker testament, and a spiritual autobiography, telescopes the major political and religious conflicts of the century.”

    Booklist

  • National Review’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Century
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Bur | 5/11/2016

    " I have read other books about the Alger Hiss case. It seems to me that many authors take the story as an article of faith. One chooses whom one will believe. As a "jury member", I wanted to hear the story from the man himself. Detailed and clear in presentation and in narration. A student of the case should make this a must read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kathleenob | 1/28/2014

    " I am absolutely enthralled with Chambers story. He basically walks you through his entire life from his childhood, to his joining the American Communist underground, escaping the party and the Alger Hiss trial. I cried in the first ten pages, which is a letter to his Children. So far so good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sean | 1/3/2014

    " This is book alternates between being incredibly fascinating and unspeakably boring. I think Chambers take on the conflict between the west and Communism as between faith in God and faith in man's perfectibility is very compelling and an intriguing analysis but his swings into self-pity were a little too much for me at some points. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Chris Hunt | 10/10/2013

    " May be the best book I've ever read. Beautiful prose. Excellent, touching biography of a tortured man who dedicated himself to eradicating the communism he witnessed in the highest echelons of the U.S. government. "

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About the Author
Author Whittaker Chambers

Whittaker Chambers (1901–1961) was an American writer, editor, Communist Party member and spy for the Soviet Union who defected and became an outspoken opponent of Communism. He is best known for his testimony about the perjury and espionage of Alger Hiss.