Review of “Invitation to an Inquest”

Commentary (January 1966).

Book Review of Invitation to an Inquest, by Walter and Miriam Schneir (1965).


United States v. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg wasn’t the Dreyfus, the Mooney, the Sacco-Vanzetti case of the early 1950’s. But much has been written as if it were. Walter and Miriam Schneir’s addition to the literature is an earnest, industrious, long, artless, tedious, and finally intemperate book, which mounts the most uncompromising argument yet for the innocence of the Rosenbergs. It makes a radical charge, to mince no words, of malicious prosecution and judicial murder, conceding nothing on the score of forgery, perjury, and rank prejudice to the Dreyfus and Sacco-Vanzetti affairs. But the book fails; these charges will not stick. For other reasons, relatively slighted by the Schneirs, the Rosenberg case was nevertheless an unforgivable disgrace to the American administration of justice. By misdirecting the sense of outrage that the case should never cease to provoke, Invitation to an Inquest blurs and dilutes it.