The Sphinx

The Sphinx

Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists, and the Road to World War II

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
May 1938. Franklin Delano Roosevelt--recently reelected to a second term as president--sat in the Oval Office and contemplated two possibilities: the rule of fascism overseas, and a third term.

With Hitler's reach extending into Austria, and with the atrocities of World War I still fresh in the American memory, Roosevelt faced the question that would prove one of the most defining in American history: whether to once again go to war in Europe.

In The Sphinx, Nicholas Wapshott recounts how an ambitious and resilient Roosevelt--nicknamed "the Sphinx" for his cunning, cryptic rapport with the press--devised and doggedly pursued a strategy to sway the American people to abandon isolationism and take up the mantle of the world's most powerful nation.

Chief among Roosevelt's antagonists was his friend Joseph P. Kennedy, a stock market magnate and the patriarch of what was to become one of the nation's most storied dynasties. Kennedy's financial, political, and personal interests aligned him with a war-weary American public, and he counted among his isolationist allies no less than Walt Disney, William Randolph Hearst, and Henry Ford--prominent businessmen who believed America had no business in conflicts across the Atlantic.

The ensuing battle--waged with fiery rhetoric, agile diplomacy, media sabotage, and petty political antics--would land US troops in Europe within three years, secure Roosevelt's legacy, and set a standard for American military strategy for years to come.

With millions of lives--and a future paradigm of foreign intervention--hanging in the balance, The Sphinx captures a political giant at the height of his powers and an American identity crisis that continues to this day.

Publisher: New York :, W.W. Norton & Company,, 2015, ©2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780393088885
Branch Call Number: 940. 53112 WAP
Characteristics: xvi, 446 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 26, 2014

This is a superb read, accurately portraying both Roosevelt's deftness in the political arena, and those forces arrayed against him. Much criticism has been cast upon FDR's tenure in the White House, yet he was battling awesome forces, only able to put in place a fraction of what he wanted to comprise the New Deal. And yes, McCloy and Earl Warren's Great Japanese Land Grab [interning Japanese Americans so their rich agricultural lands could be taken] was abominable, and Roosevelt, unlike his wife, should have railed against it. [If you've yet to read Sally Denton's outstanding book, The Plots Against the President, read it after this!]

Dec 26, 2014

Fascinating read about the behind the scenes of the US involvement in the WWII.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CPL

To Top