The Gunman and His Mother: Lee Harvey Oswald, Marguerite Oswald, and the Making of an Assassin


The Gunman and His Mother: Lee Harvey Oswald, Marguerite Oswald, and the Making of an Assassin

by Steven Beschloss

For most of us, the story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy depicts Lee Harvey Oswald as a convenient cliche or a conspiracy puppet, Lone Gunman or Framed Patsy. Lost among the competing theories of villainy and cover-up is the real Lee Harvey Oswald, a troubled young man from a fractured family, a lonely child born without a future. 

In this original and dramatic work, Steven Beschloss draws on a rich but relatively unmined public record, key interviews with Marguerite and other family members, and Lee's own writing and statements to trace the origin of an American tragedy.

He was a quiet boy who loved to stare at the stars. She was a bossy woman who always felt broke. He loved to ride the subways, skip school, go to the zoo. She was desperate and itinerant, forced to put her three kids into a New Orleans orphanage. He was a heavy reader, a homebody; she an oppressive and volatile figure. Both felt the world owed them better, and both carried a grudge that never softened. He was Lee Harvey Oswald and she his mother Marguerite. 

The Gunman and His Mother depicts the troubled bond between a mother and her son, revealing in detail a relationship that has deserved focused treatment for a half century but has yet to receive it: how an innocent young boy evolved into a killer despite the watching eyes of his mother, his family, and his friends.

"If you want to understand how Lee Harvey Oswald became the desperate and delusional man the world met on 11/23/63, Steven Beschloss's The Gunman and His Mother is the book to read. Haunting and compelling, it reads like a Greek tragedy." 

– Ralph Pezzullo, author of Jawbreaker and Inside Seal Team Six


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