Cover image for Interloper : Lee Harvey Oswald inside the Soviet Union
Interloper : Lee Harvey Oswald inside the Soviet Union
Savodnik, Peter, author.
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
xvi, 267 pages ; 25 cm
Before Minsk. In search of a new country ; The great United States--Social conditions--1960-1980. escape -- Minsk. The faux revolutionary ; A Bolshevik among the bourgeoisie ; Minsk to the end of the line ; The experimental department ; An accidental friendship ; A proposal ; "Her name is Marina" ; Disentanglements -- After Minsk. The great escape, redux ; America.


Call Number
Material Type
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 364.152 SAV Adult NonFiction Book
Horseheads Free Library 1 364.152 SAV Adult NonFiction Book

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Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 remains one of the most horrifying and hotly debated crimes in American history. Just as perplexing as the assassination is the assassin himself; the 24-year-old Oswald's hazy background and motivations--and his subsequent murder at the hands of Jack Ruby--make him an intriguing yet frustratingly enigmatic figure. Because Oswald briefly defected to the Soviet Union, some historians allege he was a Soviet agent. But as Peter Savodnik shows in The Interloper , Oswald's time in the U.S.S.R. reveals a stranger, more chilling story.

Oswald ventured to Russia at the age of 19, after a failed stint in the U.S. Marine Corps and a childhood spent shuffling from address to address with his unstable, needy mother. Like many of his generation, Oswald struggled for a sense of belonging in postwar American society, which could be materialistic, atomized, and alienating. The Soviet Union, with its promise of collectivism and camaraderie, seemed to offer an alternative. While traveling in Europe, Oswald slipped across the Soviet border, soon settling in Minsk where he worked at a radio and television factory. But Oswald quickly became just as disillusioned with his adopted country as he had been with the United States. He spoke very little Russian, had difficulty adapting to the culture of his new home, and found few trustworthy friends; indeed most, it became clear, were informing on him to the KGB. After nearly three years, Oswald returned to America feeling utterly defeated and more alone than ever--and as Savodnik shows, he began to look for an outlet for his frustration and rage.

Drawing on groundbreaking research, including interviews with Oswald's friends and acquaintances in Russia and the United States, The Interloper brilliantly evokes the shattered psyche not just of Oswald himself, but also of the era he so tragically defined.

Author Notes

Peter Savodnik's writing has appeared in Harper's, Time , the New York Times , the Atlantic Monthly , and many other publications. Formerly based in Moscow, he has traveled and reported extensively in the former Soviet Union. Savodnik holds a master's from the University of Chicago and lives in Washington, DC.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A lot of people, Savodnik points out, have spent a lot of time speculating about whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed President John F. Kennedy. Very little time, on the other hand, has been spent in examining Oswald as a man. Savodnik begins with the assumption, for which he later offers plenty of evidence, that Oswald acted alone, and he devotes his time to exploring the reasons why this 24-year-old assassinated an American president. His focus is on Oswald's years in the Soviet Union his reasons for going there, his disillusionment (Russia, it turned out, wasn't a workers' paradise), and his state of mind when he returned to the U.S. in 1962. Savodnik busts a few myths along the way; for example, pointing out that the notion that the Russians would use Oswald as a Manchurian Candidate-style programmed assassin is absurd. But his real interest lies in presenting a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald the man, not merely the murderer. A very welcome addition to the voluminous literature about the Kennedy assassination.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Unlike previous accounts of the man who assassinated Kennedy, which focus on whether he acted alone, journalist Savodnik here delivers a genuine biography that emphasizes the nearly three years Oswald spent in the Soviet Union and attempts to address the oft-neglected question of why he wanted to kill the President. A mildly rebellious youth whose mother never provided a stable home, Oswald joined the Marines at age 17-his service was undistinguished and men in his squadron considered him odd because he was already expressing pro-communist views. Soon after discharge, he traveled to Moscow where he requested Soviet citizenship; suspicious authorities dithered for months before assigning him a factory job in Minsk. Oswald made friends and enjoyed success with women who considered him exotic, but he became bored and dissatisfied. His marriage to Marina Prosakoba briefly improved matters, though he soon resumed efforts to return home, passing the last year and a half of his life growing increasingly irascible. Savodnik's impressive research-which includes many Russian sources-does not turn up any revelations, but it paints an intriguing portrait of a restless, tormented soul who accomplished little in a short life until he turned himself into an infamous historical figure. Agent: Ted Weinstein, Ted Weinstein Literary Management. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Savodnik, a journalist who has reported from Russia, peels back the layers of conspiracy chatter surrounding Lee Harvey Oswald and investigates the man himself by focusing on his time in the Soviet Union (1959-62). Savodnik's contention is that Oswald's sojourn there was his last best hope for finding stability in his erratic life. When he defected to Russia at 19 after leaving the marines, he wanted to take part in a Marxist revolution, but the Soviets-who, as Savodnik points out, wanted their own stability after decades of war and Stalinism-never granted Oswald citizenship and kept a close eye on him. The book effectively details how Oswald, sent to a factory job in Minsk, and overseen by the KGB, after a spell of enjoying popularity as an American boyfriend to local women, became alienated, married Marina Prusakova in a mutual act of desperation, and returned with her to the States. This was emblematic of his patterns of -unhappiness and drastic impulse. In the States he further destabilized, which led to tragic consequences. VERDICT This work complements Gerald Posner's Case Closed, which also sees Oswald as the lone-and loner-assassin, as well as Priscilla Johnson McMillan's Marina and Lee, which takes a more personal and Marina-focused approach. Recommended for all who remain fascinated by Oswald, the Kennedy assassination, Cold War narratives, or infamous criminals. [Marina and Lee has been reissued with a new introduction by the author.-Ed.]-Jacob Sherman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., San Antonio (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Part 1 Before Minsk
Chapter 1 In Search of a New Countryp. 3
Chapter 2 The Great Escapep. 23
Part 2 Minsk
Chapter 3 The Faux Revolutionaryp. 37
Chapter 4 A Bolshevik Among the Bourgeoisiep. 55
Chapter 5 Minsk to the End of the Linep. 69
Chapter 6 The Experimental Departmentp. 83
Chapter 7 An Accidental Friendshipp. 105
Chapter 8 A Proposalp. 119
Chapter 9 "Her Name Is Marina"p. 139
Chapter 10 Disentanglementsp. 153
Part 3 After Minsk
Chapter 11 The Great Escape, Reduxp. 169
Chapter 12 Americap. 187
Epilogue: A Conjecturep. 205
Notesp. 221
Indexp. 257

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