Joseph E. Persico

Persico headshot
Born in Gloversville, New York, Joseph Edward Persico (1930-2014) received a BA in English and Political Science from the New York State College for Teachers (now SUNY-Albany) in 1952 before spending 3 years in the US Navy, where he served as a Lieutenant on a minesweeper and worked at NATO Headquarters in Naples, Italy. He then worked for Governor W. Averell Harriman as a writer and researcher. In 1960, Persico joined the United States Information Agency (USIA) working in Argentina, Brazil, and Washington DC. During 1963-66, he was Executive Assistant to the New York State Health Commissioner and in 1966 became chief speechwriter for New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, remaining Rockefeller’s main speechwriter throughout his Vice Presidency.

In 1977, after Rockefeller’s tenure ended, Persico published
My Enemy My Brother: Men and Days of Gettysburg, a nonfiction book about the Civil War. In 1979, he published The Spiderweb, a novel, and Piercing the Reich: The Penetration of Nazi Germany by American Secret Agents During World War II, a nonfiction study, and in 1982, The Imperial Rockefeller, a biography of his former employer, followed by a biography of Edward R. Murrow. In 1995, he co-wrote Colin L. Powell’s autobiography My American Journey. Throughout the 1990s, Persico published Casey: From the OSS to the CIA and Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, which became a television docudrama, and wrote numerous articles on American history. In 2001, he published Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage and in 2004, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax. His last book, Roosevelt’s Centurions, appeared in 2013.

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