Born in Toledo, Ohio, Whitney graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. degree and went on graduate from Columbia University in 1940 with a Masters degree in Russian history. A translator of a number of works from Russian to English, Whitney is best known for translating the work of Nobel Prize winning author, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He wrote a memoir titled Russia in My Life. First published in January 1963 in London, England, it recounted the nine years he spent living in the Soviet Union at the close of the Joseph Stalin regime.
During World War II, Whitney worked as an analyst for the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, D.C.. From 1944 to 1947, he served as an attaché and chief of the economic section at the United States embassy in Moscow. In 1947, he became the Moscow correspondent for The Associated Press and later was appointed head of the Moscow office.
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