Wednesday, 14 October 2015




Published by Skyscraper Publications on 10th September, price £20.00 hardback


“This is an extraordinary shows clearly that Alger Hiss was wrongly convicted. Even more, it is a case study in how the progressive experience of the New Deal was wiped out by hysterical anti-communism. So much for the rule of law. And now it's happening again.”

CLARE SHORT, Secretary of State for International Development in the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair

JOAN BRADY is an award-winning author and the first woman to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award (now known as the Costa Prize). America’s Dreyfus: The Case Nixon Rigged will be released on the 10th September 2015 (hardback, £20.00) and is the culmination of Joan’s decade-long fascination and extensive research into the infamous case of Alger Hiss.

Every American child learns about the crimes of Alger Hiss; in school textbooks, it’s a name that rings with villainy: Communist, traitor, spy. Outside the US, he’s less well-known, but the man who brought him down was Richard Nixon, notorious all over the West for his own crimes in government. Joan Brady’s powerful book demolishes the case against Hiss and shows how Nixon manipulated the press and the public with lies of staggering proportions and evidence conjured from nowhere.

Brady met Hiss after he got out of prison, knew him for many years, but never looked hard at what had happened to him until she was prosecuted herself. Why would Nixon rig a case like this? America’s Dreyfus explores the anti-Communist hysteria ruling the US post World War II and reveals how Nixon exploited it ruthlessly and with extraordinary success. All waves of hysteria need scapegoats. Nixon made Hiss into Communism’s, much as in 1894 the French military turned Alfred Dreyfus into a focus for French anti-Semitism. Nixon’s scapegoat set him on the road to the White House and put Hiss in prison. Dreyfus was eventually cleared of his crimes; now it’s Alger Hiss’s turn.

Intercut with her own personal reminiscences of Alger Hiss and alternating the facts and fictions surrounding his downfall, Joan draws strong parallels with what is happening in world politics today. Written in a vivid and personal style, America’s Dreyfus reads like one of Brady’s thrillers. But every word is true.


Joan Brady lives in Oxford but was born in California and danced with the New York City Ballet in her twenties, a story she tells in her highly-acclaimed autobiography The Unmaking of a Dancer. She won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for her novel, Theory of War; the first woman, and American, to do so. The book also won France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. Long-listed for the Orange Prize with her novel Death Comes for Peter Pan, she turned to thriller writing in 2005, pouring rage and passion onto the page with terrifyingly results. Critically and commercially acclaimed, Joan’s thrillers include The Blue Death, Bleedout and Venom.

‘A harrowingly honest writer’ Financial Times

‘A prize winning author with a conscience, brave… polished…seductive… unconventional…sharp, playful, iconoclastic’ The Independent 

America’s Dreyfus: The Case Nixon Rigged by Joan Brady is published by Skyscraper Publications on the 10th September, price £20.00 hardback.

If you fancy adding a bit of non-fiction to your usual reading and you live in the UK or Ireland, you can win a copy of this courtesy of the publisher. Two questions to answer and they won't rattle your brains too much,

1. What was Nixon's middle name?

2. Who did Nixon beat in the race for the 1972 Presidency?

Answers via e-mail to

Winner drawn from a hat (assuming I need one) next Wednesday.
Two thoughts from myself regarding the above book and the author.

I like a bit of a dabble in non-fiction now and again - a bit of sports biography, a bit of topical social commentary or a bit of politics or war reporting. In my lifetime there have been two US Presidents that come across as a little bit interesting and worthy of further investigation. Bill Clinton was one - Tricky Dicky the other. I shall look forward to reading this one.

The second musing isn't going to portray me in a particularly favourable light. Once when book browsing, I picked up a copy of Bleedout, enticed by the cover, the spine and the blurb. I mistakenly read the author's name as John Brady. When I realised it was written by a Joan Brady I put it back!

Shameful really, rejecting a book I liked the look of on author gender only. I've always felt slightly guilty ever since.

Maybe I'll make amends one day and read it!


  1. Col, this sounds good. I read a lot about Watergate and especially liked the book, "All the President's Men" by Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. Nixon and his Secretary of State Kissinger hated India and its then Prime Minister, the formidable Indira Gandhi, who stood up to both during the war to liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan.

    1. I always thought Nixon was a "black hat" type of guy what with Watergate and resigning. I also remember him coming off badly in his TV debate with Kennedy, though I think that was more related to appearances and perceptions than anything else.
      On the plus side - he opened a dialogue with China and Moscow, ended the draft and did introduce some environmental bodies concerned with pollution and industry.
      Didn't he also try and bomb the Vietnamese to the negotiating table?
      I was unaware of his influence and attitudes to India.

    2. Oh, there is some chequered history between the pro-Pakistan Nixon and India. He almost involved America in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war by sending the Pacific Fleet (I think) towards the Bay of Bengal, only to back off when the pro-India Soviet Union sent a matching navy to the Indian Ocean. India eventually won the war and liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan.

    3. Prashant, thanks for elaborating for me.

  2. Interesting! There was always so much controversy over the Hiss case, Col, that I'm not surprised that it's all being explored here. Fascinating!

    1. Margot - I'll own up to being ignorant of the case until the book dropped on my doormat. I'm keen to find out more.

  3. You're missing out on a lot of good books if you only pick up those by men! Brilliant review - a shame about that last comment.

    1. H thanks for stopping by and yes you're right I am. That was some years ago when that happened, so whilst I still read mostly male authors, I don't pre-judge a book based on author gender anymore.

      In the interests of transparency the above is not my review, but the press release for the title - I should maybe have made that a bit clearer.

  4. I like your honesty, Col. This could be an interesting book, but I don't have room to add more non-fiction to my list.

    1. Tracy, I probably don't either, but I'll read it no doubt at the expense of something else slipping further down the pile.

  5. This sounds very interesting to me, I am definitely going to email my entry! I have read a couple of books by Joan Brady - they are bizarrely varied: from hardcore thriller to ballet memoir, but always very readable. And recent history, including American, is a great interest of mine.

    1. Recent US history interests me....... Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Watergate, civil rights.......Civil War stuff - less so, verging on not at all.
      Yes she has written some very different books in her career. I'm skipping the ballet one myself.

  6. The Hiss book sounds fascinating. I shall have to look out for a copy when the book's released here. I've always assumed Hiss was innocent and wrongly convicted thanks to Tricky Dicky, but it'd be good to replace my hunch with the actual researched evidence.

    rejecting a book I liked the look of on author gender only. I've always felt slightly guilty ever since.

    As well you should!

    1. Glad you like the look of it John.

      I have considered myself severely chastised - you're the second commentator to berate me - as well you should. Catholic guilt kicking in,