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Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage Paperback – October 22, 2002
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A good example of this is his relationship with the celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh. Roosevelt asked J. Edgar Hoover to keep tabs on Lindbergh because he was a critic of the administration, and FDR suspected he was a closeted Nazi (not true, but perhaps an understandable opinion). Roosevelt's Secret War reveals how FDR created a huge intelligence operation and then ran it--he "built espionage into the structure of American government," says Persico. There were plenty of successes (Roosevelt knew about Hitler's plans to invade Russia before they did it), but also failings: Soviet agents burrowed into FDR's administration at the highest levels. One of the best sections of the book addresses a perennial question: Did FDR know the Japanese were about to bomb Pearl Harbor and let them do it because he believed the sneak attack would propel the public into supporting war against the Axis powers? Persico argues that FDR didn't know: "The clues seem to lead to that conclusion like lights on a well-marked runway." He makes a convincing case that "Pearl Harbor was a catastrophe, not a conspiracy." Roosevelt's Secret War is a unique contribution to our understanding of FDR--no other book treats America's longest-serving president as a spymaster--and it will appeal to readers interested in the Second World War and the cloak-and-dagger world of espionage. --John Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
From the perspective of one interested in "Presidential intelligence," that is, how does a President manage various means of keeping informed, the book is a must read but also a shallow read. We learn that FDR was a master of deception and of running many parallel efforts, balancing them against one another. We learn that FDR was remarkably tolerant of amateurism and incompetence, while good at finding the gems these same loose but prolific intelligence endeavors could offer.
Perhaps most importantly, we gain some insights into how Presidents, even when properly informed by intelligence (e.g. of Pearl Harbor in advance, or of the lack of threat from domestic Americans of Japanese descent) must yet "go along" and provide either inaction pending the public's "getting it", or unnecessary action (the internments) to assuage public concern.
There are enough tid-bits to warrant a full reading of the book, but only for those who have not read widely in the literature of intelligence and/or presidential history.Read more ›
In "Roosevelts Secret War", we are given insight into a crucial time in American history. Mr. Persico has shown all angles of a diverse and complicated situation. The country is strongly isolationist, the Nazi regime is slowly crushing Europe under its boot heel, and Britain is tied up in skulldugery, decreasing moral and a war that is looking more bleak by the day.
This is the maelstrom FDR is thrust into. The States lag behind The U.K. in terms of intelligence capabilities and world view. Churchill informs FDR of the realities of the war, and thus the U.S. has its die cast. Mr.Persico sends us on a journey of burgeoning intelligence offices, agency squabbling, jealous department heads, code breaking, conspirices and much more.
During this ride the author debunks long bandied rumors, such as the supposed prior knowledge FDR had of the Pearl Harbor tragedy. The answer is surprisingly complicated. Hindsight offers a pretty clear view of a pending attack, yet all the intel that pointed towards that travesty was divested in so many small nuggets, bungled through many channels and ciphers, that not even a room of Nobel winners in physics could have pieced together an obvious plot.
FDR is shown as a very shrewd, intelligent and devious man. Though generally moral, he will bend rules, cast aides against one another and down right lie if the greater good will be advanced by his many prevarications. Churchill is of a similar character, and the two spark up a healthy working partnership. The book is peppered with so many gold nuggets, that a list of all its finds would be to long to list here.
Rich, complex and very well crafted, this may be the best work of Nonfiction published this year.
The only error I found here was Persico's declaration that the US breaking of the JN 25 Japanese Naval codes was never discovered. Fact is that when the German Raider Thor intercepted the Australian cargo/passenger ship the SS Nakin, the Germans captured several mail sacks with secret documents reveling the fact the we had broken the Japanese codes on 10 May 1942. The Germans did not tell the Japanese until 29 August of that year, which allowed us to win the Battle of Midway. However, the Japanese changed their codes and we did not re-break them until 5 May 1943. Because of this fact we sustained serious naval losses during the naval battles off Guadalcanal.
For those of you who are not students of intelligence matters concerning the WW-II, I suggest you buy "Encyclopedia of the Second World War" by Bryan Perrett & Ian Hogg as a reference when you are reading Persico's book! Another work I recommend is: "The Encyclopedia of Espionage" by Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen (which contains a number of details of George Washington's intelligence network that won the Revolutionary War!
There has only been one other person in American history that did what FDR did: George Washington, whose statue is in the entrance of the Headquarters of the CIA. I think they might consider putting FDR's Statue there as well: AFTER ALL HE DID SAVE WESTERN CIVILIZATION. This book is a MUST READ for all Americans!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read. Well researched and written, as are all the Persico books I have read.Published 1 month ago by GPH
Very interesting read, lots of (previously unknown, by me, at least) detail about FDR, his family and his role in WWII.Published 2 months ago by SJWalt
An excellent history of a little known role that FDR played in promoting the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence that would later become the CIA. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Baywatcher
Having read a number of books dealing with WW II spying by US, Brits, and Germans, I found this book to be a great overview. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Rich72
Outstanding! Very unusual. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history.Published 10 months ago by RONALD
Excellent outline of historic events - accurate and candid. Well narratedPublished 12 months ago by Gavril Trand
Very informative and very very interesting. Extraordinary research. Smooth reading.Published 14 months ago by Sahajanand
I thought I knew alot about World War II history, but this book shows me a whole different side.Published 15 months ago by Steven Leenerts