OPINIONSrnChronicling the Fallrnby Scott P. Richertrn’Folly is often more cruel in the consequences than malice can be in the intent.”rn—HalifaxrnNotes from the Underground:rnThe Whittaker Chambers-Ralphrnde Toledano Lettersrnedited and annotated byrnRalph de ToledanornWashington, D.C.:rnRegnery Publishing, Inc.;rn342 pp., $24.95rnThe correspondence of EdmundrnBurke, whose letters help to illuminaternhis published works, was not availablernin a complete edition until 1978,rnToday, however, it seems that every aspiringrnjournalist begins saving his correspondencerneven before his first word-processedrnpiece is published. If currentrntrends continue, we can look forward inrnthe near future to definitive editions ofrnthe correspondence of Francis Fukuyamarnand Bill Bennett (ghostwritten, in thernlatter case).rnJohn Lukacs has remarked that inflationrncharacterizes modern life, and thernexplosion of published works of correspondencernis just one sign of that inflation.rnOf course, inflated money is stillrnworth something, and some of these volumesrnare actually worth reading. The recentrncollection of the correspondencernbetween Lukacs and George Kennan,rnGeorge F. Kennan and the Origins ofrnContainment, 1944-1946, is indispensablernfor those who wish to rise above ideologicalrncategories and to place the ColdrnWar in its proper historical context. Therncorrespondence between hvo IngersollrnPrize winners, Shelby Foote and WalkerrnPercy, is of similar interest to students ofrnSouthern history. Not all works of thisrntype, however, are worth sacrificing thernScott P. Richert is the assistant editor ofrnChronicles.rnlives of trees. At an American PoliticalrnScience Association annual conventionrna few years back, I attended a session devotedrnto the (then) newly published correspondencernbetween Leo Strauss andrnEric Voegelin. The highlight of the panelrnwas a paper by a Straussian Voegelinianrn(or perhaps he was a VoegelinianrnStraussian) expounding the esotericrnmeaning of Strauss’s apologies, in his lettersrnto Voegelin, for writing on scrap paper.rnHappily, Notes from the Undergroundrnis one of the more interesting works ofrnthis genre, even though there are no majorrnrevelations about the Alger Hiss trial.rnIn fact, most of Chambers’ comments onrnpolitical events will surprise no one whornhas read William F. Buckley’s Odyssey ofrna Friend (another volume of Chambers’rncorrespondence), Allan Weinstein’s Perjury:rnThe Hiss-Chambers Case, or SamrnTanenhaus’s Whittaker Chambers: A Biography.rnBut these letters, exchangedrnbetween two close friends on the anticommunistrnright, constitute a valuablernperiod piece that gives depth and texturernto an era that most people today view onlyrnthrough the distorting ideological lensrnof the Reagan years.rnThat era saw a different politician risernto national prominence on the strengthrnof his anticommunist credentials. WhittakerrnChambers and Ralph de Toledanornbegan their correspondence in 1949,rnwhile Toledano was covering the first trialrnof/Alger Hiss for Newsweek. Some ofrntheir earliest letters discuss RichardrnNixon’s speech on the floor of the Housernof Representatives following Hiss’s perjuryrnconviction, a speech which, inrnToledano’s words, “shook Congress andrnplaced him in the center of the nationalrnpolitical stage.” Their last letters were exchangedrna few days before Nixon was defeatedrnby John F. Kennedy in the 1960rnpresidential election and temporarily departedrncenter stage. Along the way, theirrncorrespondence paints a picture ofrnNixon that is more subtie and complexrnthan standard conservative interpretations.rnWhile acknowledging Nixon’s politicalrnstrength and his early devotion tornthe anticommunist cause, both Chambersrnand Toledano begin to doubtrnNixon’s devotion to his friends, a charac-rn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn