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The Alger Hiss Trial

Be the Judge/Be the Jury
Illustrator:John PalencarPublisher:StarWalk Kids Media
Target Age:12 - 14Grade:7 - 9
Pages:186Subject:Social Studies
Social Studies/Law & Crime
Social Studies/History, U.S.
Narration:noLexile Level:860L
Series:Be the Judge Be the JuryGuided Reading Level:Z
Reading:RI.8.3 RI.7.6 RI.7.9Writing:W.8.1W.8.4W.7.8
Speaking and Listening:SL.8.3Language:L.7.4
AR Level:N/AAR Quiz:N/A


A reconstruction of the Alger Hiss trial, in which Hiss, a respected State Department official, denies the charge that he was a Communist spy, brings the McCarthy era in the 1950's vividly to life.   Using testimony from edited transcripts of the trial, and brief passages of relevant background information about the House Unamerican Activities Committee, future President Richard Nixon, and others, the author asks the reader to assume the role of juror and decide the fate of Alger Hiss.  Newly updated with relevant historical information, 2012.

Editorial Reviews

BOOKLIST: Be the Judge/Be the Jury: The Alger Hiss Trial

Gr. 7-12. In the same excellent Be the Judge, Be the Jury series as Rappaport's Lizzie Borden Trial (1992) and Tinker vs. Des Moines (1993), this presents the evidence in the controversial case of Alger Hiss, drawing on the actual testimony of the witnesses and asking the reader to be judge and jury. First, Rappaport sets the stage (Who was Alger Hiss? Who was his accuser, Whittaker Chambers? How did Americans feel about Communism in 1948?).

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SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: Be the Judge/Be the Jury: The Alger Hiss Trial

Grade 6 Up-The still controversial perjury trial of the State Department official and alleged Communist spy serves as an effective introduction to the U.S. legal system. Readers are asked to take the role of the jury, consider the evidence, and decide on the defendant's guilt or innocence. As in the other books in this series, the often-conflicting testimony gives readers an idea of how difficult it can be for a jury to reach a verdict.

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