Alistair Cooke

The life and fate of Alger Hiss remains a hot topic among readers

"The other curious thing about the Hiss case is the psychology of believing that Hiss was a spy, which requires abandoning much of what we know about rational thought."

— Newspaper columnist Molly Ivins in 1996

I knew that my Alger Hiss column from a few weeks back would elicit plenty of mail, and I wasn't disappointed.

The power of the Hiss story continues to arouse strong emotions even after the passage of more than 60 years.

Some who contacted me by phone or email accused me of propagating the idea that Hiss' guilt was still in doubt.

What I was trying to do was explain what Hiss was saying in his 45-minute talk before an...