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Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage
Roosevelt's Secret War FDR and World War II Espionage
Author: Joseph Persico
Despite all that has already been written on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Joseph Persico has uncovered a hitherto overlooked dimension of FDR's wartime leadership: his involvement in intelligence and espionage operations. — Roosevelt's Secret War is crowded with remarkable revelations: —
  • FDR wanted to bomb Tokyo befo...  more »
  • A defector from Hitler's inner circle reported directly to the Oval Office
  • Roosevelt knew before any other world leader of Hitler's plan to invade Russia
  • Roosevelt and Churchill concealed a disaster costing hundreds of British soldiers' lives in order to protect Ultra, the British codebreaking secret
  • An unwitting Japanese diplomat provided the President with a direct pipeline into Hitler's councils

Roosevelt's Secret War also describes how much FDR had been told -- before the Holocaust -- about the coming fate of Europe's Jews. And Persico also provides a definitive answer to the perennial question Did FDR know in advance about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

By temperament and character, no American president was better suited for secret warfare than FDR. He manipulated, compartmentalized, dissembled, and misled, demonstrating a spymaster's talent for intrigue. He once remarked, "I never let my right hand know what my left hand does." Not only did Roosevelt create America's first central intelligence agency, the OSS, under "Wild Bill" Donovan, but he ran spy rings directly from the Oval Office, enlisting well-placed socialite friends.

FDR was also spied against. Roosevelt's Secret War presents evidence that the Soviet Union had a source inside the Roosevelt White House; that British agents fed FDR total fabrications to draw the United States into war; and that Roosevelt, by yielding to Churchill's demand that British scientists be allowed to work on the Manhattan Project, enabled the secrets of the bomb to be stolen. And these are only a few of the scores of revelations in this constantly surprising story of Roosevelt's hidden role in World War II.
ISBN-13: 9780375502460
ISBN-10: 0375502467
Publication Date: 10/9/2001
Pages: 592
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.

4.6 stars, based on 7 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
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This is an interesting, if sometimes depressing book. It relates all of Roosevelt's activities in spy-related areas. As such, it is very revealing. sometimes extremely so. I have a couple of shelves devoted to spy-related books about World War II, but there were numerous sections in this book providing information I was unaware of.

Roosevelt liked to believe he could charm anyone, but he failed miserably with Stalin. In fact, it was depressing to see how easily the Soviets infiltrated American organizations, even the White House. Roosevelt also played games with the people who worked for him, ofttimes playing one against another. I don't believe this is a good feature in a leader.

The author also states the U.S. didn't have a spy system until World War II. I take exception to that as even George Washington had spies working for his army. In fact, as related in Allen Dulles' book "Great True Spy Stories," one spy in New Jersey actually had Washington himself as his control officer. Plus, the Union Army under Grant had an organized spy system.