Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage” as Want to Read:
Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  358 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
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 before Pearl Harbor
-A defector from Hitler's inner circle reported d
Paperback, 564 pages
Published October 22nd 2002 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Roosevelt's Secret War, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Roosevelt's Secret War

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Steve Cooper
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Whether you find them tedious or fascinating the details of this book (relating to scene setups or filling out tangential characters) provide a fully-realized picture of the subject. Ancient historians would kill for this kind of material, and it makes me appreciate the book all the more.

However there is a strong whiff of the apologist here, especially regarding the decision to drop the atomic bomb. This hint of an agenda made me always wonder whether some inconvenient fact was being displaced b
Mar 27, 2011 rated it liked it
This book could have been better written. Most annoying were the instances of repetition of material, sometimes word-for-word, which pulled me out of the "moment in time" in which Persico had me immersed, to sit for a minute or two casting my memory back to examine whether I was right that this had already been covered. For it to happen once is forgiveable, to happen 4-5 times is not. Where were the editor and proofreader?

Further, Persico often covered unnecessary and unimportant things in minu
Doug Tabner
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If Joseph Persico ever wrote a book that was less than stellar, I haven't found it yet. Other authors have alluded to what Persico details here, that Roosevelt was a very compartmentalized president who held his cards close to his chest. For a time, he had three different espionage services that were unaware of the others' existence. Eventually, they all came to resent and submarine each other, as bureaucracies are wont to do.

There were as many failures as successes, perhaps even more. But the
Chris White
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delicious. I still don't like FDR and most of what and how he did things, but this is a book about how the enigma of FDR fit into the full spectrum of all that the 1930's and 40's were. It's better than fiction.
Craig Adamson
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am not sure why I bought this book. I suppose because I found it at Goodwill for 88 cents and it appeared to have not been read.

I would not say I'm a Roosevelt fan per se. But the author did a very good job of being fair in his review of Roosevelt and his attempts to use espionage to win WWII. So I have a much more favorable opinion of FDR now than previous (I will elaborate more in a minute). I am not a student of WWII so many of the main characters in this book were either brand new to me or
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I will start this rather short review by saying that this is a dad book through-and-through. Ripe with great writing and superb insights through stories developed after research into FDR and WWII archives, yet largely void of citation work, this book can be flown through by the history-lover, the World War II obsessed, fans of cloak and dagger, or the average reader looking to take a break from genre fiction. If you don't buy this for a family member, it's a good read; yet if you are interested ...more
Keith Parrish
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many things have been written about Franklin Roosevelt and his shepherding of the United States through World War II, but one aspect that has not garnered much attention is how he handled espionage during the war. Roosevelt was a novice spy master (as indeed were most of the world leaders at that point) and in fact in some circles espionage code breaking, and spying were considered to be ungentlemanly. But the climate the climate of the times dictated that the U.S. enter the sphere of the secret ...more
Aug 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
The author maintains that "Few leaders were better adapted temperamentally to espionage than Franklin Roosevelt." Indeed, it seems that Roosevelt was incredibly deft at a sort of high-stakes chess game, playing off aides, rivals, other world leaders, and the general public as he worked toward the ultimate goal of bringing the U.S. into the war. He was an adept spymaster -- creating the Office of Strategic Services under "Wild Bill" Donovan, a loosely structured organization which later evolved ( ...more
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
I think I started this book four years ago and despaired of ever finishing it once I had kids. Even considered returning it to the friend who lent it to me, when I ran across it yet again in my nightstand a few months ago. I'm glad I didn't give up. Once I reoriented myself and reread a few chapters, I was once again immersed in this book. With lots of recently unclassified documents, Persico fills in many of the critical questions and controversies that previous historians upon which previous h ...more
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Even though it took me a whole month to read this book, I really liked it. It was heavy at times but always interesting. Persico is one of my favorite authors - his book about the Nuremberg Trials (Nuremberg : Infamy on Trial) is fantastic.

This book read like a specialized, alternate version of Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA, in that it dealt very much with the beginnings of the CIA as seen through FDR's eyes. While reading this book, I learned a lot of interesting things about WWII, co
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman & the Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1941-45
  • Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS
  • Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches
  • Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War
  • Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor
  • The New Dealers' War: F.D.R. and the War Within World War II
  • The Hornet's Sting: The Amazing Untold Story Of Second World War Spy Thomas Sneum
  • Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II
  • Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War's Most Daring Spy
  • The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero & Myth-maker from the Crimea to Iraq
  • Washington Goes to War
  • Roosevelt and Churchill: Men of Secrets
  • With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain
  • In Search of History
  • The Double-Cross System: The Incredible True Story of How Nazi Spies Were Turned into Double Agents
  • To Dare and to Conquer: Special Operations and the Destiny of Nations, from Achilles to Al Qaeda
  • Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom, 1940-1945
  • Shadows In The Jungle: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines In World War II
Joseph E. Persico was the author of Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage; Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918–World War I and Its Violent Climax; Piercing the Reich; and Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, which was made into a television docudrama. He also collaborated with Colin Powell on his autobiography, My American Journey. He lives in Guilderland, New ...more
More about Joseph E. Persico...