David Reynolds re-examines the war leadership of American president Franklin Roosevelt. At the height of war, Roosevelt inspired millions with stirring visions of a new and better postwar world, but it was a world he probably knew he would never see. He was commander-in-chief of the greatest military power the world had known, and yet a man whose paralysis from polio made him powerless to accomplish even the most minor physical tasks. Few Americans knew the extent of his disability. In this intimate biography set against the epic of World War Two, Reynolds reveals how Roosevelt was burdened by secrets about his failing health and strained marriage that, if exposed, could have destroyed his presidency. Enigmatic, secretive and with a complicated love life, America's wheelchair president was racing to shape the future before the past caught up with him. Weaving together the conduct of the war in Europe and the Pacific, the high politics of Roosevelt's diplomacy with Stalin and Churchill, and the entangled stories of the women who sustained the president in his last year, Reynolds explores the impact of Roosevelt's growing frailty on the war's endgame and the tainted peace that followed.
Michael Portillo trawls through the National Archives at Kew in south-west London to dig out stories from previously classified documents.