Posted by: Paul A. Forsyth | September 12, 2014

Joseph Persico has Passed

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-V01032-3, Nürnberger Prozess, Angeklagte

I was traveling last week, and it was only by happenstance that I saw the New York Times obituary for the author Joseph E. Persico, who passed away on August 30 at age 84.

From the Times obituary:

He wrote 12 books — all but the first after quitting his day job [a speechwriter for Nelson Rockefeller] — including a 2001 best seller, “Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage,” in which he portrayed President Franklin D. Roosevelt as having a Machiavellian, secrecy-obsessed side.

Among his other books were “Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial,” a novelistic 1994 account of the war crimes trials, which was made into an Emmy-winning TNT mini-series in 2000, and well-reviewed biographies of Edward R. Murrow and a former director of central intelligence, William J. Casey.

In 1995, Mr. Persico collaborated with Gen. Colin L. Powell on his autobiography, “My American Journey,” which sold a reported one million copies. General Powell was considered a possible presidential candidate at the time.

Persico’s name jumped out at me because his 1994 book on the trial of the German leaders, Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, made a powerful impression on me in high school and was one of the factors that led me to law school.

The Washington Post also has a nice obituary here.


Image Credit: The defendants in the dock before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, late 1945. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-V01032-3 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 Germany, via Wikimedia Commons.

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