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Stalin's Daughter Traded Life in the Soviet Union for Wisconsin

The name Svetlana Alliluyeva should ring a bell to those who know their 1960's history.

She was probably the most famous defector to the United States from the Soviet Union. She was especially famous because she was the daughter of Joseph Stalin, the hard-line Soviet Leader from 1924 to 1953. 

Alliluyeva came to this country and published two books that offered insights into her life in Soviet society. After a brief period of prominence in the West, she drifted out of public consciousness. So, it was a surprise to many when news came that she had died essentially poor in Wisconsin four years ago.

Svetlana Alliluyeva made it to Wisconsin when she married William Wesley Peters, architect and protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright. Her three week long marriage is but one piece of her tumultuous time in America.

Her life is chronicled meticulously in a new biography, called Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, by writer Rosemary Sullivan.

Sullivan says that Alliluyeva came to the U.S. with intentions to write about her journey to freedom and her many travels around the world, but that wasn't what people wanted from her.

"What she was writing was memoirs as Stalin's daughter and that's all that people were interested in, not her as a person," Sullivan says. "It was a catch-22."