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The Witness and the President: Whittaker Chambers, Ronald Reagan and the Future of Freedom

Author: Alan Snyder

Whittaker Chambers and Ronald Reagan–two conservative icons. Both hold a special place in the minds and hearts of political and cultural conservatives, and their names are linked in the history of American conservatism. Reagan owes a huge debt to Chambers’s reflections on communism and freedom, with his autobiography, Witness, serving almost as the midwife for Reagan’s political rebirth. He partially repaid that debt when he awarded Chambers with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984. The two men, though, were opposites in their temperaments and predictions about the future of freedom. Chambers was so gloomy about the prospects for the free world that when he deserted communism, he stated to his wife, “You know, we are leaving the winning world for the losing world.” Reagan, however, never lost his faith that America’s future was bright, and that the Western world could help promote liberty in nations that were trapped by tyranny and spiritual darkness. Which of these two icons was closer to the truth? This book examines and contrasts the Chambers pessimism with the Reagan optimism and seeks to answer that question

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