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Priscilla Johnson McMillan

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. When JFK was assassinated in Dallas and it was reported that Oswald had been arrested, her first thought was, “My God, I know that boy.” In 1964 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).

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