Is Alice Kessler-Harris soft on Lillian Hellman's communism? Ron Radosh thinks so

Historians in the News

Ronald Radosh is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at The Hudson Institute, and a  Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, Queensborough Community College.

If you want to know what is wrong with academia, look no further than a long article that appears in The Chronicle Review, the weekly magazine of the academy’s major publication, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Keep in mind that most professors subscribe to it, as do the presidents and deans of every institution of higher learning.

The article in question is written by the outgoing President of the Organization of American Historians, Prof. Alice Kessler-Harris of Columbia University, who is author of a new biography of playwright Lillian Hellman, titled A Difficult Woman. Using her forthcoming book as the excuse to get some free publicity for her thesis, Kessler-Harris has written a piece titled “Lillian Hellman’s Convictions” for the review. (Unfortunately, they have chosen to put her article under a firewall, and to read it, you will have to either purchase it or wait for them to eventually post it.)...

In the end, Kessler-Harris sees Hellman as one who was marginalized because she saw America “in unconventional ways.” Nonsense. She was marginalized because many saw her as a mediocre playwright, as a liar and phony, and as an apologist for Stalinism. Try as she may, Kessler-Harris has not been able to rescue Lillian Hellman’s well-deserved rotten reputation.

Related Links


  • Alice Kessler-Harris: OAH Presidential Address on Lillian Hellman

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