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My first reaction was, “Get that son of a bitch out of my
office.” This was after all of the Hiss-Chambers brouhaha.
Davy McDowell used the same tactic with me that Donald did.
He said, “Well, you're a fine liberal publisher...a liberal
with all the people who are writing the way that you want them
to write; but if someone comes along with something that you
don't agree with, you don't even want to talk to him.” I was
ashamed of myself. I said, “What is he going to talk about?”
He said, “He has two chapters of his book and he thinks that
Random House would be a good publisher for him. He doesn't
want to go to one of the right wing houses. He'd rather have
a liberal house do it. He deliberately picked Random House.”
I said, “Bring him up.” Davy McDowell went down to fetch him.
It was the first time I ever saw him.
Chambers was not a very prepossessing looking man. He
was pudgy and sloppy. His teeth were in dreadful shape--brown
stubs. He had these two chapters with him. He started talking
and I discovered then--I hadn't known it--that he was a Columbia
graduate and that we had lots of friends in common--Clif Fadiman
and many other people. I found myself interested talking to
him, but still I was a little repulsed by him because in my
mind Hiss was the hero and Chambers was the villain.
I had already met Mr. Nixon at a breakfast in Washington
and heard how the whole case started, which I'll tell you because
it's pertinent to this. At this time, Richard Nixon was just
in the Senate. The Nixon-Mundt bill had become law. The Hiss
case had already broken. Of course I was dying to hear inside
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