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Zoë Wanamaker

Zoë Wanamaker was born in New York, but when she was three her father, American actor Sam Wanamaker, fled to the UK to escape the anti-communist McCarthy witch-hunts. Hoping to better understand her father's decision, Zoë heads to Washington DC where she visits the FBI headquarters. Here, under the Freedom of Information Act, Zoë gains access to her father's FBI file, an extraordinary document that reveals the level of scrutiny Sam was under and the very real risk of imprisonment he faced.

Wanting to explore the roots of her father's left-wing politics, Zoë next looks into the life of her father's father Maurice Wanamaker, an émigré Russian Jew. Zoë is moved to discover that, soon after his arrival in Chicago, Maurice suffered a series of personal tragedies and hardships that almost destroyed his American dream.

Finally, Zoë travels to Nikolaev in Ukraine where she discovers the original form of her unusual surname and the reason why her family left for America.

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