America’s Dreyfus

The Case Nixon Rigged


A reinvestigation of one of America’s most notorious trials overturns a verdict that has stood for 60 years and reveals the part it played in Richard Nixon’s rise to prominence.

Every American child learns about the crimes of Alger Hiss; in school textbooks, it’s a name that rings with villainy: Communist, traitor, spy. Outside the US, he’s less well-known, but the man who brought him down was Richard Nixon, notorious all over the West for his own crimes in government. Joan Brady’s powerful book demolishes the case against Hiss and shows how Nixon manipulated the press and the public with lies of staggering proportions and evidence conjured from nowhere.

Brady met Hiss after he got out of prison, knew him for many years, but never looked hard at what had happened to him until she was prosecuted herself. Why would Nixon rig a case like this? America’s Dreyfus explores the anti-Communist hysteria ruling the US post World War II and reveals how Nixon exploited it ruthlessly and with extraordinary success. All waves of hysteria need scapegoats. Nixon made Hiss into Communism’s, much as in 1894 the French military turned Alfred Dreyfus into a focus for French anti-Semitism. Nixon’s scapegoat set him on the road to the White House and put Hiss in prison. Dreyfus was eventually cleared of his crimes; now it’s Alger Hiss’s turn.

Intercut with her own personal reminiscences of Alger Hiss and alternating the facts and fictions surrounding his downfall, Joan draws strong parallels with what is happening in world politics today. Written in a vivid and personal style, America’s Dreyfus reads like one of Brady’s thrillers. But every word is true.

For further information, including extract/serial interest, please contact Emma Draude at ed public relations on or call 020 7732 4796

BBC Worldwide interview


“Brilliant and terrifying… What makes Brady’s book so persuasive is the depth and seriousness of her meticulous research…a remarkable document.”

Caroline Moorehead, TLS

“Compelling...absorbing...a bracing reminder of what indeed was so hateful, so villainous about Nixon and his political ascent.”

John R MacArthur, Spectator

“Extraordinary … part autobiography, part memoir of [Alger] Hiss, part thriller.… As Joan Brady shows, a politics built on whipped-up terror is bad for all of us.”

Alan Ryan, New Statesman

“Remarkable… A unique perspective… Flags up the surely remarkable fact that no corroborating witness or evidence has ever emerged.… The plank of Brady’s argument that looks hardest to shift concerns the role the press played in demolishing Hiss’s reputation”

Susanna Rustin, Guardian

“[Brady] succeeds in throwing substantial doubt on the soundness of the verdict.” ****

PW, New Internationalist


“This is an extraordinary book. It … shows clearly that Alger Hiss was wrongly convicted. Even more, it is a case study in how the progressive experience of the New Deal was wiped out by hysterical anti-communism. So much for the rule of law. And now it's happening again.”

Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development in the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair
“Joan Brady's highly readable take on Alger Hiss adds valuable, new personal information to his ever-fascinating story. I think it will be of interest not merely to scholars of the case, but anyone who cares about history and getting it right.”

Victor Navasky, winner of the National Book Award for his study of the Hollywood blacklist, Naming Names

“Joan Brady has written an evocative, graceful memoir filled with novel reminiscences of her friendship with Alger Hiss. It is a most unusual book, using memory and a Talmudic examination of legal texts to explore the still contested terrain of the Hiss trials. As such, it is sure to incense those historians and partisans wedded to the national narrative crafted by Whittaker Chambers and Richard Nixon. Insightful and provocative, Brady has reopened the Hiss case to a new generation of readers.”

Kai Bird, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer

“Joan Brady's America’s Dreyfus, a personal story about the Alger Hiss case written by one of our most talented and accomplished writers, is a wonderfully vivid account that conveys the intensity of some of the darkest days in our post-WWII history. It's also full of revelatory new material about the case that started young Richard Nixon on his road to the White House and convinced Americans that the Reds really were threatening our freedom. It's time to revisit this extraordinary story, which historians have been debating for the last half-century; Brady's fresh and compelling book will introduce a new generation to the trial that transformed America.”

Jon Wiener, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine, lecturer in American politics and the Cold War, recognised expert in the FBI vs John Lennon controversy