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Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship Hardcover – March 19, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (March 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393069001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393069006
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“An interesting revisionist history, Aldous’ study should attract the foreign policy audience.” (Gilbert Taylor - Booklist)

“Starred review. This is excellent revisionist history, giving another slant to the interaction of two political icons on the world stage.” (Publishers Weekly)

“I can’t speak for President Reagan, but I’ve been both praised and pulverized by Margaret Thatcher and Richard Aldous seems to me to have captured the force of her personality. She did have an emotional understanding of Reagan and her of her that in its essence, in my judgement, was warmer than between Churchill and Roosevelt. But her fury was incandescent over the invasion of Grenada, a member of the Commonwealth, as was the wimpiness of the initial American reaction to the seizure of the Falkland Islands. This is a valuable look behind the looking glass of public-relations politics of the special relationship.” (Harold Evans, author of The American Century)

“Vivid, fast-paced and immensely readable, Richard Aldous' new book challenges conventional wisdom and prods us to rethink the 1980s.” (Prof. David Reynolds (Cambridge), author of America, Empire of Liberty)

“An important study, based on a wealth of recently-released documents, which puts the Thatcher-Reagan friendship in a wholy new (and more somber) light. It should be essential reading for anyone who cares about the history, the health and the future of the Anglo-American 'special relationship'.” (David Cannadine, author of The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy and Mellon: An American Life)

About the Author

Richard Aldous, the author of eight books, including The Lion and the Unicorn and Reagan and Thatcher, is the Eugene Meyer Professor of British History and Literature at Bard College. He lives in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

More About the Author

Richard Aldous holds the Eugene Meyer Chair at Bard College, New York. His numerous books include REAGAN AND THATCHER (New York Times Editors' Choice, Sunday Times Best Books of the Summer, Christian Science Monitor Best Books of the Year, Publishers Weekly Starred Review), THE LION AND THE UNICORN: GLADSTONE VS. DISRAELI (Independent, Daily Telegraph, Irish Times books of the year) and GREAT IRISH SPEECHES (an Irish Times No.1 bestseller). Richard writes and reviews for the New York Times, the Irish Times and the Sunday Telegraph, and is a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic.

Praise for REAGAN AND THATCHER: THE DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP:

'This well-informed account casts new light on the heroic version of the two leaders' association.' New York Times 'Editor's Choice.'

"This gripping account of their difficult relationship reads like a thriller." Sunday Times "Must Reads" and Best Books of the Summer.

"This wonderful new history by Bard College professor Richard Aldous makes clear that the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was far more challenging and complex than is widely recognized." Christian Science Monitor Best Books of 2012.

"This brilliant book reminds readers of the simple lesson that in diplomacy, interests often trump ideology -- and spin trumps both." Foreign Affairs

"A well-researched, well-written and revisionist double portrait." Wall Street Journal

"It is a remarkable story, which deserves the fresh account that Richard Aldous, a professor of history at Bard College, gives it in Reagan and Thatcher. His book casts new light on the heroic version in which two great leaders continued the struggle for freedom waged for generations past by 'the English-speaking peoples.'" New York Times

"Aldous deserves nothing but credit for the masterly way in which he weaves accounts from published memoirs and recently declassified US material into a pacey, almost thriller-like account of the meetings and telephone calls between these two political giants. This is a work of history that can be read at one sitting." Sunday Times (London)

"Reagan and Thatcher, a wonderful new book by Bard College professor Richard Aldous, makes clear that their alliance was far more challenging and complex than is widely recognized." Christian Science Monitor

'Intelligent, authoritative and extremely readable.' The Spectator (London)

"What Aldous manages to achieve is strong research with a vivid narrative style, bringing the most dramatic moments to life." The Guardian (London)

"An accurate picture of the Reagan-Thatcher dance does us all a favor." Daily Beast "Hot Reads".

"This is excellent revisionist history, giving another slant to the interaction of two political icons on the world stage." Publishers Weekly (starred review).

"This is a well-researched, highly readable book that effectively analyzes the relationship of the two leaders." Washington Times

"Aldous makes a compelling case ... The book offers a well-researched, well-written account of two friends in the heat of battle." Dallas Morning Post

"The portrait of these powerful figures is well drawn and particularly gives the reader a new view of Reagan as a more effective leader than some have portrayed him in the past. In scholarship it supersedes other works on the Reagan-Thatcher relationship." Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Thorough and engaging new history." Slate.

"Aldous makes a thorough and compelling case that the Reagan-Thatcher relationship was as difficult as it was 'special'." The Hill.

"This eminently readable and fascinating book." Irish Times.

"Richard Aldous has written a vivid, jaunty and highly readable account of the working relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher." The Tablet.

"Vivid, fast-paced and immensely readable, Richard Aldous' new book challenges conventional wisdom and prods us to rethink the 1980s."
David Reynolds, author of 'America, Empire of Liberty'.

"Throughout, Aldous carefully and persuasively demonstrates the elaborate care each took to "handle" the other, precautions unnecessary had the relationship been as close as publicly portrayed ... A revealing look at the political marriage of two titans, who, like Roosevelt and Churchill, will be forever linked in history.'
Kirkus Reviews

"An important study, based on a wealth of recently-released documents, which puts the Thatcher-Reagan friendship in a wholy new (and more somber) light. It should be essential reading for anyone who cares about the history, the health and the future of the Anglo-American 'special relationship'."
David Cannadine, Author of 'The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy' and 'Mellon: An American Life'.

"I can't speak for President Reagan, but I've been both praised and pulverized by Margaret Thatcher, and Richard Aldous seems to me to have captured the force of her personality. She did have an emotional understanding of Reagan and he of her that in its essence, in my judgement, was warmer than between Churchill and Roosevelt. But her fury was incandescent over the invasion of Grenada, a member of the Commonwealth, as was the wimpiness of the initial American reaction to the seizure of the Falkland Islands. This is a valuable look behind the looking glass of public-relations politics of the special relationship."
Harold Evans, author of 'The American Century'.

Praise for THE LION AND THE UNICORN: GLADSTONE VS. DISRAELI

`Mutual loathing made their bruising encounters a riveting spectacle, richly enjoyed by the British public and recaptured, with great zest, by Richard Aldous in The Lion and the Unicorn.' New York Times.

'A cracking good read which captures the battle between these two extraordinary personalities.' Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor.

`It does full justice to the drama inherent in a battle for political supremacy that was central to British history for decades.' Sunday Times.

`With The Lion and the Unicorn, this epic showdown has found a worthy champion.' Literary Review

'Aldous's enthralling narative is notably judicious.' Independent on Sunday.

'Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone are the subjects of this engaging and gracefully written book. Why should Americans care about the rivalry between two British politicians who died more than a century ago? Because the events described in this book remind us of an important and timely truth.' National Review.

'Why such a book as this? Well, for enjoyment, among other things. Aldous is a gifted writer ... Still their story more than entertains. It instructs.' Weekly Standard.

`Connoisseurs of political rivalry have had much to enjoy this year, not least a history of the struggle for power between Gladstone and Disraeli.' Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year.

`The result is a hugely enjoyable joint biography.' The Independent.

`Aldous's smooth pacing and adroit writing bring a forgotten world back to life and demonstrate how two forceful if warring personalities can create a history that neither could have achieved acting alone.' Publishers Weekly.

`A rousing portrait of 19th-century England's most venomous political rivalry, featuring a highly readable exploration into the dueling natures of two powerful men.' Kirkus Reviews.

`Aldous deftly analyses this peculiar relationship, but also dramatises it - and does so with great panache.' Daily Telegraph.

`This lively joint biography makes clear they utterly loathed each other.' The Guardian.

`Richard Aldous has written an entertaining and thought-provoking book.' The Spectator.

`Aldous describes the different episodes of the rivalry with vividness, capturing the particular flavour of 19th-century political and social life.' New Statesman.

`Richard Aldous has set this drama with just the kind of care and skill these two extraordinary adversaries, authors and politicians undoubtedly deserve.' Irish Times.

'The Lion and the Unicorn - surprisingly, the first attempt at a double-biography of the great Victorian rivals Gladstone and Disraeli.' The Independent, Books of the Year

Customer Reviews

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Overall, I found this to be an absolutely fascinating book.
Kurt A. Johnson
Where the friendship really gained traction was when Thatcher defended Reagan in front of his detractors at earlier G-7s or on Capitol Hill.
Ian Gordon Malcomson
Aldous is a very accessible author and this book, like his earlier The Lion and the Unicorn, is an enjoyable read.
FictionFan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John E. Hayes on May 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book provides a most informative and provocative history of the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Most contemporaneous media coverage of US-Great Britain relations, especially the "special relationship" between the president and the prime minister, portrayed two leaders and two countries who were in complete accord on all important policy points at all times. The book shows this perception to be incorrect, and analyzes quite perceptively the reasons for the occassional disconnects between the two. Publication of a book like this points out again how limited current news gathering and reporting is (of necessity), and how important it is to have a historical perspective on important events and relationships. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to have the curtain lifted on the truly "special relationship" that is so important to the foreign policy and the security of each country.
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Format: Hardcover
Over the last number of years, journalists and historians have talked about the close relationship that American President Ronald Reagan and British Primer Minister Margaret Thatcher enjoyed. In this fascinating book, author and professor Richard Aldous presents a very different, more nuanced look at the relationship between the two great leaders. Instead of being an instant and constant communion of souls, they often found themselves at loggerheads, being pulled by their inclinations and interests in very different directions!

Overall, I found this to be an absolutely fascinating book. It does a great job of presenting the history of the 1980s as it was experienced by the two leaders and their governments. I was quite interested in the squabbles that they had, and also how they did, nonetheless, work together. In many ways their relationship was like a marriage - two people working together, though often struggling with going in two separate directions, and yet working together.

If you want to really understand what happened in the 1980s, then I would highly recommend that you check this book out. You won't regret it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Aldous sets out to challenge the view that Reagan and Thatcher enjoyed a close political friendship based on shared ideology and beliefs, particularly in regard to foreign policy and the Soviet Union. He takes some of the major events of the era - the Falklands War, the US invasion of Grenada, Reagan's Star Wars initiative - to show how in fact the two leaders were often at odds both in policy and approach.

Aldous is a very accessible author and this book, like his earlier The Lion and the Unicorn, is an enjoyable read. However, it seemed to me that his central premise was faulty to the extent that I'm not convinced that a UK audience at least (of whom I'm one) ever believed that the two leaders were fully in tune on the subjects he raises. The failure of the US to provide full and early support over the Falklands crisis was publicly known at the time, as was the UK Government's dismay over the way the US intervened in Grenada. The various disagreements in approach to arms reduction and the Strategic Defence Initiative have been discussed in many previous books, not least in Thatcher's own autobiography The Downing Street Years, which Aldous uses extensively as one of his sources.

Despite these differences, there was no doubt that Thatcher and Reagan shared an over-arching world view particularly with regard to economic matters (which oddly Aldous barely touches on) and the on-going Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union. Aldous doesn't dispute this, concentrating instead on highlighting divisions in a few less significant incidents.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wallau reader on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The problem with revisionist history is the author comes to the subject with an agenda already in mind. He/She then proceeds to ignore virtually everything that disagrees with that agenda and to concentrate solely on what does. Was the Reagan - Thatcher relationship all milk and honey? Of course not. But I'll bet neither were Roosevelt and Churchill's, Eloise and Abelard's, Romeo and Juliet's, Burton and Taylor's. Okay, I'm going over the top but my point is no relationship, especially one so steeped in politics and national interests, is ever going to be without conflict.

In the epilogue Aldous does finally almost admit to his overemphasis when he quotes Lord Palmerston's famous comment that "Countries have neither permanent allies nor permanent enemies, just permanent interests." Quite true and it really goes a long way to explaining that, yes, Reagan and Thatcher did, at times, have some major disagreements. I think Aldous was an author in search of rancor and he very much overemphasized the disagreements that occurred during the Reagan - Thatcher years.

Having said that I do have to give the author very high marks for writing a spellbinding history of the 80s. He does a remarkable job of demonstrating the complicated and dynamic events and politics that shaped these years. One cannot read this work without being overwhelmed by the complexities that existed on the world stage and how the participants, most of the time, successfully navigated them.

Overall, an excellent work well worth reading; as is his "Lion and the Unicorn," which covers the Disreali - Gladstone years of the 19th century.
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