I just realized that the Whittaker Chambers who wrote that awful review of Atlas Shrugged in National Review was the same Whittaker Chambers who spied for the Soviet Union for many years, then defected to testify against Alger Hiss. (I never knew enough about the Hiss case until now to make the connection.) Although I don’t know the details of Chambers’ defection, I doubt the possibility of any forgiveness or redemption for such a major crime as espionage for the Soviet Union. (Of course, he likely ought to be credited with some courage, as well as appreciated for the valuable information he provided. But the conservative community seemed to embrace him wholeheartedly.) In any case, he certainly didn’t redeem himself with that horrid review of Atlas. As the biographical sketch from the Heritage Foundation summarizes:
One of Chambers’ more memorable contributions to the magazine was his evisceration of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. He called its plot “preposterous,” its characterization “primitive,” and much of its effect “sophomoric.” In a lifetime of reading, he concluded, “I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained.” His review, “Big Sister Is Watching You,” helped bar conservatism’s door to Rand’s godless technocratic ideas.