Awakening the Spirit of America: FDR’s War of Words With Charles Lindbergh—and the Battle To Save Democracy

Pegasus. Jun. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9781639366675. $29.95. HIST
From 1939 to early 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt engaged in a war of words with the United States’ isolationists, especially aviator Charles Lindbergh, and warned Americans of the dangers posed to democracy by nationalist totalitarianism (e.g., Nazism). Meanwhile, Lindbergh advocated for the U.S. to be neutral in World War II, based on his admiration of Nazi Germany, distrust of the British, and deeply ingrained antisemitism. Sparrow, former director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, details the crucial period when Roosevelt and his allies prepared the U.S. for war, providing arms and support to Great Britain as it stood against Hitler’s Germany. Through carefully crafted speeches and fireside chats, Roosevelt made the case that Hitler needed to be defeated to save democracy, while Lindbergh, although deeply private and reclusive, used speeches and alliances with other isolationists to put out his own message.
VERDICT This deeply researched, engaging work demonstrates what was at stake in the war of words between Roosevelt and isolationists in the immediate years prior to the U.S.’s entry into WWII. There’s much to enjoy in this title.
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