AN Essex historian has helped shed light on the life of President Franklin D Roosevelt in a new documentary.

Dr Andrew Priest was filmed for the six-part series, Race to Victory, for the History Channel.

It will air on VE Day and be broadcast in the UK and USA exploring the critical moments and locations where the Second World War was won and lost.

Dr Priest, who is head of the Department of History at Essex University, said the programme would look at the complex relationship between the US President, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Russia’s leader, Joseph Stalin.

“[Roosevelt] is, in many ways rightly, remembered as a brilliant politician and inspirational leader,” said Dr Priest.

“In the 1930s and 1940s, Roosevelt guided the United States through the twin national traumas of the Great Depression and then the Second World War, and he inspired many people with his eloquence and calm demeanour.

“But he was highly secretive, he kept no diary and did not live long enough to write a memoir.

“We need to try to have a balanced approach to understanding his place in history and acknowledge that some of the things he did - such as his failure to press for a post-war political order that offered a peaceful end to empire and democracy across the globe - were problematic.”

Dr Priest said there were worldwide impacts of the actions of any leader of the free world.

He added: “Any decision an American president makes - or doesn’t make - has potentially huge ramifications and can ripple out across the globe.

“And it is still striking how many times politicians and officials - many of them highly intelligent - get it wrong.

“Knowing more about an area of the world and its history could only help politicians make better decisions about it.”

  • Race to Victory begins on the History Channel at 9pm on Friday.