Edward Jay Epstein

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Edward Jay Epstein
Epstein in 2017
Born(1935-12-06)December 6, 1935
DiedJanuary 9, 2024(2024-01-09) (aged 88)
New York City, U.S.
Academic background
EducationCornell University (BA, MA)
Harvard University (PhD)
Academic work

Edward Jay Epstein (December 6, 1935 – January 9, 2024) was an American investigative journalist and a political science professor at Harvard University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Edward Jay Epstein was born in New York City on December 6, 1935.[3] He earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in government from Cornell University.[4] One of his professors at Cornell was Vladimir Nabokov. In 1973, he received his PhD in government from Harvard University.[3]


Epstein taught courses at these universities for three years. While a graduate student at Cornell University in 1966, he published the book Inquest, an influential critique of the Warren Commission probe into the John F. Kennedy assassination. After teaching at Harvard, UCLA, and MIT, Epstein decided to pursue his writing career back in New York City.[1]

Epstein wrote three books about the Kennedy assassination, eventually collected in The Assassination Chronicles: Inquest, Counterplot, and Legend (1992). His books Legend (1978) and Deception (1989) drew on interviews with retired CIA Counterintelligence Chief James Jesus Angleton, and his 1982 book The Rise and Fall of Diamonds was an exposé of the diamond industry and its economic impact in southern Africa.[5]

In "Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?" (1982), Edward Jay Epstein detailed the heavy marketing strategy used by the diamond company De Beers to turn tiny rocks of transparent crystallized carbon into highly demanded, high-priced mass market items.[6]

In his 1996 book The Secret History of Armand Hammer, the author revealed, among other things, how the prolific businessman laundered money to finance espionage for the Soviets in the 1920s and 1930s.[7][8]

In 2017, Edward Jay Epstein was the subject of a documentary, Hall of Mirrors, directed by the sisters Ena and Ines Talakic[9][10] and which premiered at the 55th New York Film Festival.[11] This covered his most notable articles and books, including close looks at the findings of the Warren Commission, the structure of the diamond industry, the strange career of Armand Hammer, and the inner workings of big-time journalism itself. These were interwoven with an in-progress investigation into the circumstances around Edward Snowden's 2013 leak of classified documents, resulting in Epstein's book How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft.[3]

Despite claims of both the documentary and the book affirming that Snowden was a Russian spy,[12] neither did so. On the contrary, in his book, Epstein concludes that there is no evidence that Snowden was employed by the Russian intelligence service while in the United States. What he did say in his book How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft was that Snowden, a former civilian contractor at the National Security Agency, as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence unanimously confirmed in its December 2016 report,[13] removed digital copies of 1.5 million classified files from the NSA. Epstein also said that Edward Snowden went to Hong Kong, where he secretly contacted Russian government officials,[9] which Vladimir Putin revealed in a September 3, 2013, televised press conference[14][15] and that the House Intelligence Committee found, based on its access to U.S. intelligence, that "Since Snowden's arrival in Moscow [on June 23, 2013], he has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services."[16][15][17]—a conclusion that Epstein confirmed with Representative Adam Schiff, the committee's ranked Democrat, and Representative Mike Rogers, its ranking Republican; all the Democrats as well as Republicans signed the report.[17][18] The fact that a defector to Moscow had contact between 2013 and 2016 with an adversary's intelligence service does not make him a spy, and therefore Epstein never claimed that Edward Snowden was a spy in the film Hall of Mirrors or in his book. Nonetheless, he said "Other whistleblowers have gone to their respective service's inspector general with their concerns; by contrast, Snowden 'got in touch with' agents of the Russian government."[17]


Epstein died from COVID-19 at his apartment in Manhattan, New York City, on January 9, 2024, at the age of 88.[3]

Published work[edit]

  • Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth. New York: Viking Press. 1966. OCLC 391774.
  • Counterplot. New York: Viking Press. 1969. OCLC 4405.
  • News from Nowhere: Television and the News. New York: Random House. 1973. ISBN 9780394463162. OCLC 495180.
  • Between Fact and Fiction: The Problem of Journalism. New York: Vintage Books. 1975. ISBN 9780394713960. OCLC 1500255.
  • Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald. New York: Reader's Digest Press. 1978. ISBN 9780070195394. OCLC 3516389.
  • Cartel. New York: Berkley Books. 1980 [1978]. ISBN 9780425044803. OCLC 11966305.
  • The Rise and Fall of Diamonds: The Shattering of a Brilliant Illusion. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1982. ISBN 9780671412890. OCLC 8169228.
  • Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB & the CIA. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1989. ISBN 9780671415433. OCLC 19127470.
  • Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power in America (Revised ed.). London: Verso. 1990. ISBN 9780860915294. OCLC 22277989.
  • The Assassination Chronicles: Inquest, Counterplot, and Legend. New York: Carroll & Graf. 1992. ISBN 9780881849097. OCLC 26751242.
  • Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer. New York: Random House. 1996. ISBN 9780679448020. OCLC 33441238.
  • The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood. New York: Random House. 2005. ISBN 9781400063536. OCLC 55625186.
  • The Hollywood Economist: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies (2nd ed.). Brooklyn: Melville House. 2012. ISBN 9781612190501. OCLC 721886872.
  • Three Days in May: Sex, Surveillance, and DSK. Brooklyn: Melville House. 2012. ISBN 9781612191966. OCLC 801545032.
  • The Annals of Unsolved Crime. Brooklyn: Melville House. 2013. ISBN 9781612190488. OCLC 821701850.
  • The JFK Assassination Diary: My Search for Answers to the Mystery of the Century. EJE Publication. 2013. ISBN 9781492831501. OCLC 865582282.
  • How America Lost Its Secrets: Snowden, the Man and the Theft. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2007. ISBN 9780451494566. OCLC 952546865.[19][20]
  • Assume Nothing: Encounters with Assassins, Spies, Presidents, and Would-Be Masters of the Universe. New York: Encounter Books. 2023. ISBN 9781641772945. OCLC 1641772948.


  1. ^ a b "Edward J. Epstein". Karws. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  2. ^ Jackson, David (April 13, 1978). "Follows Oswald's Track, Finds Lot of 'Maybes'" (PDF). Chicago Sun-Times. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Edward Jay Epstein, Author and Stubborn Skeptic, Dies at 88". The New York Times. January 11, 2024. Archived from the original on January 11, 2024. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  4. ^ "Edward J. Epstein". www.kenrahn.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2021. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  5. ^ Nocera, Joe (August 9, 2008). "Diamonds Are Forever In Botswana". The New York Times. p. C1. Archived from the original on November 21, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  6. ^ Epstein, Edward Jay (February 1982). "Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on March 15, 2006. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  7. ^ Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer Archived March 8, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, publishersweekly.com
  8. ^ Joseph E. Persico, The Last Tycoon Archived November 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Nytimes.com, October 13, 1996
  9. ^ a b Lang, Brent (October 16, 2017). "'Hall of Mirrors': Edward Jay Epstein on the Trail of Edward Snowden". Variety. Archived from the original on August 31, 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  10. ^ Scheck, Frank (October 4, 2017). "'Hall of Mirrors': Film Review | NYFF 2017". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  11. ^ "Hall of Mirrors". Film at Lincoln Center. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  12. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (March 21, 2017). "Newly Obtained Documents Prove: Key Claim of Snowden's Accusers Is a Fraud". The Intercept. Archived from the original on September 26, 2021. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  13. ^ "Report on the Activity of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for the 114th Congress". irp.fas.org. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  14. ^ "Interview to Channel One and Associated Press news agency – President of Russia". September 3, 2013. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2022. Mr Snowden first went to Hong Kong and got in touch with our diplomatic representatives. I was informed that there was such a man, agent of special services.
  15. ^ a b Epstein, Edward Jay (March 21, 2017). "The Compromising of America". Lawfare. Archived from the original on October 20, 2023. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Snowden still has contacts with Russian intelligence: U.S. House report". Reuters. December 22, 2016. Archived from the original on December 4, 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  17. ^ a b c Epstein, Edward Jay (December 4, 2019). "For Whom the Whistleblower Blows". City Journal. Archived from the original on December 4, 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  18. ^ Epstein, Edward Jay (January 17, 2017). How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-451-49457-3.
  19. ^ "Why President Obama can't pardon Edward Snowden". Newsweek. January 5, 2017. Archived from the original on January 11, 2017. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  20. ^ Savage, Charlie. "Was Snowden a Russian Agent?". The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2017. Epstein gets many facts about surveillance issues wrong, calling into question his competence to serve as a guide to thinking seriously about the Snowden saga. He gets dates wrong, calls an important technology by the wrong name, and inaccurately describes various programs and a presidential directive Snowden leaked. (Syndicated copy without paywall Archived December 3, 2022, at the Wayback Machine)

External links[edit]