The old left lost a stalwart and The Nation a friend when William Reuben died recently at age 89. Reuben, whose books include The Atom Spy Hoax and The Honorable Mr. Nixon and the Alger Hiss Case, made his reputation as an investigative reporter for the National Guardian. He was a walking encyclopedia on the Rosenberg and Hiss cases, raising loud challenges on behalf of the defendants, whom he regarded as wrongly convicted. Before he died he completed, with the help of his friend and editor Zack Sklar, a manuscript about the Hiss case, on which he had worked off and on for almost half a century. He wrote a monograph for the Nation Institute, “Footnote on an Historic Case: In Re Alger Hiss,” exposing more than 100 factual errors in the denial of Hiss’s petition to reopen his case. When not defending underdogs, Reuben could be found at the racetrack, where he frequently played the favorite.
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In the recent hoopla about the “greatest generation,” David Dellinger, who died on May 25, at 88, did not get his proper due. True, he was a pacifist, not an old soldier, opposed to the draft in World War II. But even a “good war” needs someone to stand up and remind us that no war is good. His refusal to register got Dellinger four years’ hard prison time instead of a medal. He fought as fearlessly for all his beliefs, from racial equality to nuclear disarmament, and edited several small progressive journals. He helped found 7 Days, an ambitious newsweekly for the left whose readers The Nation inherited after it failed. He was the author of six books, including From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (1993).
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We note also the deaths of Sam Dash, the incorruptible chief counsel of the Senate Watergate committee, and Archibald Cox, special prosecutor in the same affair, whose relentless pursuit of the truth drove him to a head-on crash with the Nixon White House. Rather than desist, he resigned on principle.