Irving Isaacson was born on August 7, 1915 in Auburn, Maine. His family was part of a small Jewish community within New Auburn. He attended public schools in Auburn and graduated from Bates College in 1936. While at Bates, his debate coach was Brooks Quimby and his debate partner was Edmund S. Muskie. World War II broke out after his graduation from Harvard Law School and he joined the Army. He was eventually transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), where he worked as a communications agent in the Eastern Zone of Germany following the end of the war. During this period, he met and later married Judith Magyar, an Auschwitz survivor who later became Dean of Students at Bates. Irving Isaacson is the author of Memoirs of an Amateur Spy, an account of his experiences in the OSS during and after the Second World War.
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Nicoll, Don; Chavira, Rob; and O'Brien, Stuart, "Isaacson, Irving oral history interview" (1998). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 175.