Whittaker Chambers: The Lonely Voice of Tragedy on the Postwar Right

  • Hyrum Lewis University of Southern California
Keywords: Whittaker Chambers, Conservatism, American Right, Hiss Case, Cold War, Anti-Communism

Abstract

In historical discourse, Whittaker Chambers has too easily been lumped in with other midcentury conservative anti-communists. While those on the right have held him up as a hero in the American struggle for victory against “godless communism” and those on the left see him as exemplary of the excesses and damaging overzealousness of the early Cold War, Chambers defies such simplistic categorization. His subtle, nuanced thought differed considerably from that of other conservative intellectuals of the time and drew from sources outside the standard conservative canon. Thus, this despairing existentialist became an inspiration and a model for the America Right even as he differed with those he inspired on philosophical essentials.

Author Biography

Hyrum Lewis, University of Southern California

Hyrum Lewis lewish@byui.edu is an assistant professor of history at BYU-Idaho where he heads up the Undergraduate History Assessment project. He received his doctorate in U.S. Intellectual History from the University of Southern California in 2007. His research interests include the history of ideology and the intersection of political and intellectual culture. He has previously published the on the evolution in the meaning of conservatism during the Cold War and cultural amalgamation in the American West. He is currently working on a biography of U.S. President Grover Cleveland.