Lee Harvey Oswald
He tagged along with his itinerant mother for the first 15 years; developed a fascination for communism at 16; dropped out of school as a high school sophomore; joined the Marine Corps at 17; taught himself rudimentary Russian; got an early military discharge; emigrated to Russia at age 20 and attempted to renounce his U.S. citizenship; married a Russian woman and fathered a daughter; got bored with his Soviet factory job and returned to the United States; tried to shoot a controversial general; threw himself into the pro-Castro movement.
Oswald went through life with a simmering sense of outrage.
He was born to a troubled life on October 18, 1939, in
His mother, Marguerite, was seven months pregnant with Lee when her husband, Robert, died of a heart attack.
Lee and his two siblings--one full brother and one half-brother from the brief first marriage of his motherspent time in orphanages as children because Mrs. Oswald was unable to support them.
The family moved to
Lee lived with Marguerite at various places in the
As the Warren Commission reported, Lee is generally characterized as an unexceptional but rather solitary boy during these years. His boyhood neighbors later would use unflattering words and phrases to describe him: bad kid, quick to anger, mean.
At age 13, Lee moved to
Staff members indicated that Lee was a withdrawn, socially maladjusted boy whose mother did not interest herself sufficiently in his welfare and had failed to establish a close relationship with him, according to the
In 1954, Lee and his mother returned to
The two moved once again to
On October 3, 1956, a few weeks before that birthday, he wrote a letter to the Socialist Party of America based on a coupon he clipped from a magazine:
I am sixteen years of age and would like more information about your youth League, I would like to know if there is a branch in my area, how to join, etc., I am a Marxist, and have been studying socialist principles for well over fifteen months I am very interested in your Y.P.S.L.
Three weeks later, he enlisted in the Marines.
Oswald qualified as a sharpshooter rifleman during basic training, and he spent much of his time aboard ships in the
He earned a reputation as an oddball among his fellow jarheads, who nicknamed him Oswaldskovich for his fascination with
Oswald studied the Russian language, read Russian literature and played recordings of Russian music in the barracks. He often responded with da or nyet instead of yes or no and addressed fellow Marines as comrade, according to the Warren Commissions book-length biography of Oswald.
He sometimes debated with his peers about the moral superiority of Marxism and communism, which he called "the best system in the world," according to one Marine who knew Oswald. He also told peers that he supported the revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
He buried his nose in books that concerned political ideology: Das Kapital, Animal Farm and 1984.
Oswald was discharged in September 1959. Within a month, he traveled by ship to
He apparently believed this would be a momentous international event. He kept notes of his defection in a binder he labeled Historic Diary.
Seeing that the young man was serious,
Marguerite Oswald learned that her son was in
A few weeks after his arrival in
It is not clear what sort of life Oswald expected in
He was sent to
I am starting to reconsider my desire about staying. The work is drab. The money I get has nowhere to be spent. No nightclubs or bowling allys, no places of recreation acept the trade union dances. I have had enough."
He spent the ensuing year appealing to the Russian and American bureaucracies to secure reentry into the
Remarkably, he also wrote an appeal for help to Texas Gov. John Connally, the same man he would shoot in the Kennedy motorcade.
Meanwhile, Oswald met a Russian love interest, Marina Prusakova, in March 1961, and they were married just weeks later. She gave birth to their daughter, June, in February 1962.
Four months later, the
But the return to his native land did not ease Oswalds listlessness and animosities. FBI agents who debriefed him about his time in
He tried working but couldnt hold a steady job, and he fiddled with a manuscript about his Soviet ideological dalliance.
His marriage grew increasingly tempestuous, and he began beating
The couple separated and reconciled a number of times, and
Meanwhile, Oswald threw himself ever more deeply into political ideology. He subscribed to Soviet periodicals and corresponded with the Communist Party USA and the Socialist Workers Party.
In early 1963, Oswald bought a pistol and a rifle via mail order under an alias, Alek Hidell.
The shooting went unsolved until Oswald was arrested and investigators found a note he wrote to
Days after the
As usual, he soon lost the job and began collecting weekly government unemployment payments.
He found a new cause to occupy his idle time: the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
He formed an informal
In late September, Oswald rode a bus from
Once there, Oswald began seeking permission to travel to
He repeatedly visited the Mexican, Cuban and Russian embassies, seeking a visa to
On October 3, he returned crestfallen to the
He wrote a scorching letter to the Soviet embassy in
He lived apart from
A family friend said Oswald was discouraged by more than his failure to get to
He lost one job prospect due to a poor reference, then took yet another menial job on October 15 at the Texas School Book Depository on a referral from a family friend. He was assigned to work the day shift, and he spent much of his time on the sixth floor, where a window afforded him a fine view of