For the last FDR-themed event of the Roosevelt House season, we are pleased to present a discussion of Paul Sparrow’snew book Awakening the Spirit of America: FDR’s War of Words With Charles Lindbergh―and the Battle to Save Democracy. In this deeply researched and engaging history, Sparrow brings President Roosevelt, his allies, and his adversaries to life as he fought to transform America from an isolationist bystander into the world’s first superpower. The author will be in conversation with Jonathan F. Fanton Director of Roosevelt House Harold Holzer.

President Roosevelt awoke at 2:50 a.m. on September 1, 1939 to the news that Germany had invaded Poland, signaling the start of World War II. Despite the president’s warnings that Hitler’s fascist regime posed an existential threat to democracy around the world, the American public had largely remained isolationist. The situation was dire, writes Sparrow, and FDR quickly found himself facing an unexpected adversary: Charles Lindbergh. Wildly popular, the famed aviator’s youthful charm, plainspoken rhetoric, and media magnetism earned him a massive following as he led an aggressive attack on FDR’s policies.

A riveting, inside account of FDR’s ultimate victory over pro-Nazi isolationists, Awakening the Spirit of America brings readers into the rooms where key decisions were made—focusing on the crucial role of words, media, and propaganda in the transformation of the country into “the protector of the free world.” The former director of the FDR Presidential Library, Sparrow reveals how FDR’s triumph of leadership was by no means a foregone conclusion—and how his astute political maneuvers and persuasive use of language changed the course of history, and helped preserve what he termed “the spirit of America.”

Paul M. Sparrow is a writer, historical consultant, and the former Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Before moving to the FDR Library he was the Deputy Director and Senior Vice President at the Newseum in Washington, DC. He was an Emmy Award-winning documentary and television producer for twenty years. He began his broadcasting career at KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz, Sparrow also has an MFA from the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College.

Harold Holzer has served since 2015 as the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. A prolific author with more than 50 books to his credit, he won the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Prize and a 2008 National Humanities Medal. His most recent book is Brought Forth on this Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration.

Paul Sparrow — Awakening the Spirit of America: FDR’s War of Words With Charles Lindbergh ― and the Battle to Save Democracy | Posted on May 31st, 2024 | Book Discussions, Public Programs