On sale Aug 6th, 2013
Biography & Autobiography - Criminals & Outlaws
About This Book
“The single best book ever written on the Kennedy assassination” (Thomas Mallon, author of Mrs. Paine's Garage): A Kennedy insider tells the shocking story of Lee Harvey Oswald's path to killing JFK
Marina and Lee is an indispensable account of one of America's most traumatic events and a classic work of narrative history. In her meticulous—at times even moment by moment—account of Oswald's progress toward the assassination of JFK, Priscilla Johnson McMillan takes us inside Oswald's fevered mind and his manic marriage. Only a few weeks after the birth of their second child, Oswald’s wife, Marina, hears of Kennedy's death and discovers that Lee's rifle is missing from the garage where it was stored. She knows that her husband has killed the President.
McMillan came to the story with a unique knowledge of the two main characters. In the 1950s, she worked for Kennedy and had known him well for a time. Later, working in Moscow as a journalist, she interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald during his attempt to defect to the Soviet Union. When she heard his name again on November 22, 1963, she said, "My God! I know that boy!" Marina and Lee was written with the complete and exclusive cooperation of Oswald's Russian-born wife, Marina Prusakova, whom McMillan debriefed for seven months in the immediate aftermath of the President's assassination and her husband's nationally televised execution at the hands of Jack Ruby.
The truth is far more compelling, and unsettling, than the most imaginative conspiracy theory. Marina and Lee is a human drama that is outrageous, heartbreaking, tragic, fascinating—and real.
“It is not at all easy to describe the power of Marina and Lee . . . It is far better than any other book about Kennedy . . . Other books about the Kennedy assassination are all smoke and no fire. Marina and Lee burns.” —New York Times Book Review
Priscilla Johnson McMillan graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1950 and received a master's degree in Russian Studies from Harvard-Radcliffe. In 1953 she went to work for Senator John F. Kennedy. In late 1959, she was working as a reporter in Moscow when she interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald, who was trying to defect to the Soviet Union. In the years after JFK's assassination, she befriended Marina Oswald and spent many months at her side, conducting hundreds of hours of interviews, in order to gather the primary source material that would become the foundation for her magisterial book. She would spend another 13 years researching and writing before first publishing Marina and Lee in 1977. She received a MacArthur grant in research and writing for work on her next book, The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Birth of the Modern Arms Race (Viking, 2005).
“This classic of the JFK assassination literature . . . unfolds like a Russian novel with an American ending, a tale of galling social constraints, claustrophobic relationships and thwarted ambitions that birth a monstrous drive for self-assertion. Oswald is the most vivid of many sharply etched characters—arrogant, grandiose, calculating but feckless, his narcissism fed by Marxist dogma and Cold War paranoia, seizing a chance to shoot his way from failure to fame.” —Publishers Weekly
“More than three decades after its initial publication, Marina and Lee remains the single best book ever written about the Kennedy assassination. No one has managed to weave the psychological, political and fateful strands of this crime with the power and perspicacity displayed here by Priscilla McMillan. This is a book that will leave you deeply shaken and continually haunted.” —Thomas Mallon, author of Mrs. Paine's Garage and A Book of One's Own
“McMillan achieves with art what the Warren Commission failed to do with its report. She makes us see . . . It is not at all easy to describe the power of Marina and Lee . . . It is far better than any other book about Kennedy . . . Other books about the Kennedy assassination are all smoke and no fire. Marina and Lee burns.” —New York Times Book Review
“Because Priscilla McMillan is a superb narrator and a superior scholar, her book has all the power of a first-class novel, and all the austerity of excellent scholarship. It is even more than that. It answers . . . the questions: Did Lee Harvey Oswald murder John Kennedy, was he alone in the act, and why did he do it? . . . The answers are all there, and they all make sense.” —Chicago Tribune
“McMillan has done us the service of pointing out just how deeply the enemy lives within us. One closes her book pondering the odds that America has a sociological victim like Oswald on every block. Compared to this, the conspiracy question looks incidental. The question is not how many assassins can dance on the head of a pin, but what makes one dance, given a particularly ugly set of human circumstances at birth?” —The New Republic
“Fully as persuasive as the conspiracy lore that has preceded it…[McMillan] has a novelist’s sense of when to dramatize, through dialogue and the use of exact detail, the crucial twists and turns of domestic life . . . Priscilla McMillan’s extraordinary book makes the necessary and subtle connection between private frailties and their power to change the history of the world.” —The Atlantic Monthly
“Richly detailed and absorbing….Marina and Lee may be the closest we will ever get to understanding the mind of John F. Kennedy’s assassin.” —Newsday
“Not likely to be surpassed . . . a compelling story told with a mature authority. Without detracting from the horror of the act, it forces us to confront the human face of the assassin.” —New York Post