Author James P. Duffy's "Lindbergh vs. Roosevelt" is immensely informative. It reveals the venerated President to be a man with feet of clay, a man with a mean streak in him, vindictive, unforgiving and vengeful.
So what was it that got the Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Delano Roosevelt relationship off on such a strange footing? In the 1920's, Charles Lindbergh became an American and international hero for the first solo, cross-Atlantic non-stop flight in a single-prop plane, "The Spirit of St. Louis," New York to Paris. Duffy answers this question in part by revealing the details of the "air mail fiasco" in the early 1930's, a series of bad decsions and blunders made by the President in his first term. Lindbergh was the foremost figure in publicly questioning--and condemning--these misguided decisions made by the new President, something FDR never forgot.
As the warning signs of a possible second war in Europe first became apparent in the mid 1930's, Charles Lindbergh emerged as a chief spokesman and advocate for a pacifist and neutralist position, arguing on behalf of an "America First" position as it came to be known. More nuanced than this simple label, Lindbergh's position on World War II cannot be fully understood without understanding the position of Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., Charles Lindbergh's father, (also known "C.A. Lindbergh"), a Republican Congressman from Minnesota during the World War I timeframe.
The senior Lindbergh tried to steer a pacifist and non-interventionist course in the period leading up to World War I. He became a scapegoat for his beliefs and subsequently lost races for Minnesota's Senate seat and for Minnesota Governor. The lessons of the father did not escape the son but Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne held similar non-interventionist views when the drums of war began beating with the rise of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the 1930's. Lindbergh firmly believed that the best position for the United States was to stay out of a second European war.
What can only be understood with the passage of many years since World War II, was that President Franklin Roosevelt and key members of his administration had moved to an interventionist view while at the same time, continuing to pay lip service to the neutrality acts designed to keep America out of a second War. Many decisions taken by FDR and by key figures in his administration were duplicitous, conforming in name only to neutralist principles and laws.
For his beliefs and for his outspokenness, Lindbergh was to pay dearly. Duffy points out how Roosevelt and his interventionist henchmen conspired to shut Lindbergh down and take him out by a calculated set of character assassination techniques. Coming across as the most creepy character of all was "Roosevelt's Rasputin," Interior Secretary Harold Ickes. Roosevelt's replacement candidate for Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, a Republican, held interventionist positions as well and conspired to assist in Roosevelt's bidding.
"Lindbergh vs. Roosevelt" is a relatively short work that focuses primarily on the Lindbergh-Roosevelt relationship. For deeper background and a much deeper probe of character, I highly recommend reading A. Scott Berg's biography of Charles Lindbergh entitled simply "Lindbergh," published in 1998.
One critical comment of Duffy's "Lindbergh vs. Roosevelt" is that it reads in part, as a polemic. The last chapter in particular, "The Smear Continues," is largely an opinion piece.
However, this is a small price to pay for what is important factual information developed from a wide variety of sources with good documentation in the bibliography and in the footnotes.