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James B. Donovan

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Title: James B. Donovan  
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Subject: Bay of Pigs Invasion, Jacob K. Javits, Robert F. Wagner, Jr., United States Senate elections, 1962, Paul O'Dwyer, Reader's Digest Condensed Books, James Donovan, Distinguished Intelligence Medal
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

James B. Donovan

James Britt Donovan (Born in New York City, February 19, 1916, Died January 19, 1970) was an American lawyer and Commander in the United States Navy Reserve. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he helped draft the legislation setting up the Central Intelligence Agency. He earned public attention as a defense lawyer for Russian spy leader Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher and published a book about the trial and its aftermath, named "Strangers on a Bridge" in 1964.[1] He worked as an agent for the Kennedy administration, negotiating deals with Fidel Castro, and with the Russian government for the release of a captured U-2 spy plane pilot,[2] for which he won the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Donovan was assistant trial counsel in the Nuremberg Trials.[3] He presented at the trial filmed evidence of Nazi abuses against the Jews.[4] In 1962, Donovan was the Kennedy-backed Democratic candidate for a Senate seat in the state of New York against Jacob Javits.[5] In 1967, he published his book "Challenge". A lifelong interest in the arts led to the nomination for president of New York art school the Pratt Institute. He served as the schools president from 1968 until his death in 1970.[6]


1937 A.B., Fordham University
1940 L.L.B., Harvard University
1942-194? Associate General Counsel, Office of Scientific Research and Development
1943-1945 General Counsel, Office of Strategic Services
1945 Assistant to the U.S. Chief Prosecutor, International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg
1950-1970 Partner, Waters and Donovan, New York City
1961-1963 Vice President, New York Board of Education
1963-1965 President, New York Board of Education
1968-1970 President, Pratt Institute

1962 New York State Democratic Ticket

James B Donovan was a partner in Watters and Donovan, and worked with the prominent insurance and admiralty law firm of Donovan, Donovan, Maloof and Walsh. John Patrick Walsh was his law partner.



  • Bigger, Philip J. (2006). NEGOTIATOR: The Life And Career of James B. Donovan. Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press. United States. ISBN 978-0-934-22385-0.
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Wagner, Jr.
Democratic Nominee for U.S. Senate from New York (Class 3)
Succeeded by
Paul O'Dwyer
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