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Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald Hardcover – March, 1978

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill; 1st edition (March 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070195390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070195394
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,188,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roger J. Buffington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book's contribution appears to be that it compiles almost everything that is known outside of Russia and Cuba about Lee Harvey Oswald. There has always been something screwy about the fact that the man who shot John F. Kennedy was an American who had defected to Russia. This is obviously a spectacularly rare kind of person, and this fact has spawned an infinite number of conspiracy theories.

While this book occasionally bogs down in tedious detail about Oswald's life, it is insightful in a very subtle way -- it gives the reader some idea what Oswald was actually like. This in turn allows the reader to make his or her own judgment as to whether Oswald was acting under the control of an external power or agency, or was acting on his own. Spoiler alert -- I will give my own opinion in the next portion of this review. While I do not think that these comments will spoil the book for anyone, my review policy generally is to eschew spoilers.

In my opinion, the evidence in this book makes it almost certain that Oswald, at one time or another, was intended by the Soviets to be a tool for Soviet espionage against the United States. This explains the somewhat lavish lifestyle that it allowed Oswald while he lived in Russia, as well as the relative ease with which Oswald returned to the USA and the fact that the Russians allowed his new Russian wife to return with him. (It was notorious that the Russians rarely allowed Soviet spouses of Westerners to leave Russia.) Oswald had associations with probable Soviet agents once he returned to America, and he and his wife lived a strange, lie-infested lifestyle that was frankly bizarre.
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Format: Hardcover
This 1978 book was made possible by support from the 'Reader's Digest'. It is about Oswald's relations with the intelligence services of 3 nations. The book starts with the defection of Nosenko (Jan 1964) who personally oversaw the KGB file on Oswald (p.7). Nosenko claimed that radar operator Oswald was never debriefed, and of no interest to the KGB (p.8); this story had problems (p.10). The CIA prepared 44 questions to clarify Nosenko's story, but the FBI refused to allow them (p.21). Marina's statements were accepted (p.24). Were her stories accepted because they told what the Govt. wanted to hear (p.42)? Pages 37-7 tell of Nosenko's deceptions, and failing a lie-detector test. But stress reactions measure other emotions besides lying; the Soviet Union did not use lie detectors, the CIA didn't rely on them (p.38). Nosenko's memory proved faulty. This didn't matter: the Warren Commission wanted a "lone gunman" verdict.

Chapter I tells of Oswald's youth. His favorite program was 'I Led Three Lives for the FBI", his ambition was to join the Marine Corps (p.59). He was elected president of his 8th grade class, his intelligence was above average. But schooling in NY city gave him Karl Marx as a hero (p.60)! Oswald joined the Marines, took the Radar Operator's course, and was sent to Atsugi where the CIA's U-2 was flown. Oswald minded his business and did his job well (p.68); he would travel to Tokyo on a 48-hour pass and keep it a secret (p.71). Oswald romanced a high-class hostess and brought her to the base. "There was nothing dumb about Oswald" (p.82). After he left the Marines he went to Moscow; someone there told him "the USSR is only great in literature" [fiction?] and he should go back home (p.106). Oswald was sent to Minsk, and again advised to go back home (p.108).
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Format: Hardcover
I've read lots of book on the Kennedy assassination, and without question LEGEND ranks as the best, along with the other two books in THA ASSASSINATION CHRONICLES. LEGEND reads like a spy thriller, taking lots of twists and turns, studying the hidden agendas of all government agencies that had something to gain or lose by revealing Lee Harvey Oswald's real purpose in Russia. Through a careful analysis of the available evidence, Epstein points the finger at both the CIA and KGB for hiding and obscuring key facts about Oswald's life in Russia, and uncovers evidence that indicates Oswald was more than he appeared to be. Even handed and thouroughly documented, LEGEND is a must read in assassination lore.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am not a JFK assassination buff, but I have a passing familiarity with intelligence topics and I have read a number of diverse books on the JFK assassination. To me, Epstein's seminal study of Oswald was even more impressive given the relatively early stages at which he developed his earliest work on the topic. I think Legend is fascinating and worth far more attention than it has received. I will leave it to other readers to conjecture (or to surmise, if they feel so bold) why the book received and has continued to receive little attention, relatively speaking. Its relevations into rivalaries between agencies and how the truth suffers in the interrelationships of expediency and of personal and agency goals are no less true today than in the days of J. Edgar Hoover and his like.
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Format: Paperback
Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald

This 1978 book was made possible by support from the 'Reader's Digest'. It is about Oswald's relations with the intelligence services of 3 nations. The book starts with the defection of Nosenko (Jan 1964) who personally oversaw the KGB file on Oswald (p.7). Nosenko claimed that radar operator Oswald was never debriefed, and of no interest to the KGB (p.8); this story had problems (p.10). The CIA prepared 44 questions to clarify Nosenko's story, but the FBI refused to allow them (p.21). Marina's statements were accepted (p.24). Were her stories accepted because they told what the Govt. wanted to hear (p.42)? Pages 37-7 tell of Nosenko's deceptions, and failing a lie-detector test. But stress reactions measure other emotions besides lying; the Soviet Union did not use lie detectors, the CIA didn't rely on them (p.38). Nosenko's memory proved faulty. This didn't matter: the Warren Commission wanted a "lone gunman" verdict.

Chapter I tells of Oswald's youth. His favorite program was 'I Led Three Lives for the FBI", his ambition was to join the Marine Corps (p.59). He was elected president of his 8th grade class, his intelligence was above average. But schooling in NY city gave him Karl Marx as a hero (p.60)! Oswald joined the Marines, took the Radar Operator's course, and was sent to Atsugi where the CIA's U-2 was flown. Oswald minded his business and did his job well (p.68); he would travel to Tokyo on a 48-hour pass and keep it a secret (p.71). Oswald romanced a high-class hostess and brought her to the base. "There was nothing dumb about Oswald" (p.82). After he left the Marines he went to Moscow; someone there told him "the USSR is only great in literature" [fiction?] and he should go back home (p.106).
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