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Alger Hiss
Alger Hiss -- a case for our time
Alger Hiss -- a case for our time

Fifty-eight years ago today, Alger Hiss -- the defendant in an emblematic Cold War prosecution once called "the trial of the century" -- began serving a federal prison sentence for perjury. Until his death in 1996, Hiss maintained that he had never been a Communist or a spy and had been framed by the U.S. government. When I told my 86-year-old mother that I was writing about the long intellectual controversy over the Hiss case, her response was, "You'll have to explain why anyone under 80 would still care about that." One obvious reason the case remains so important to right-wing and left-wing political intellectuals is that it stands, symbolically and in real...

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