Joan Brady was the first woman to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award (now Costa)

Alger Hiss: Framed

A New Look at the Case that Made Nixon Famous

Until O.J.Simpson snatched the title, The Hiss case was the Trial of the Century. But very unlike Simpson, Hiss really was an innocent man; his is a true case of the Emperor's new clothes. A fantasy. A chimera. None of it was real except the pain it inflicted.

Most Americans who have heard the name Alger Hiss assume he was not just a spy but a traitor like Benedict Arnold. What they don't know is that there is nothing - absolutely nothing - in the secret service archives of either the Americans or the Russians to hint he might have harboured so much as subversive thoughts. The FBI and CIA gave up looking for evidence of subversion ages ago; they say so on their websites. The Russians agree. As one researcher put it, “I am ready to eat my hat if someone proves the contrary."

Hiss had filled increasingly important posts in the State Department; he'd been the organising Secretary General of the United Nations, President of the Carnegie Endowment for international Peace, was thought by many as a future Secretary of State. Instead he became Prisoner 19137 at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, a fall from grace on a Biblical scale. How could such an absurdity happen?

The answer is simple: Richard Milhous Nixon.

Nixon was the inventor of "Fake news". He created the Hiss case out of whole cloth. The prize for his invention? Same as Trump's: President of the United States.

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“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

“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


“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