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Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage Hardcover – November 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

White House press secretary James Brady once declared [i]t took a crowbar to separate President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher. Biographer Wapshott (Thatcher) assesses the nature of that sometimes testy but always close freindship. As Reagan put it, they were soul mates when it came to reducing government and expanding economic freedom. Not content with biography, Wapshott also provides a political history of the post-WWII period and the 1980s. Elected under similar circumstances, the two faced many of the same trials: assassination attempts, striking workers and tensions with the Soviet Union. Wapshott's attention to Reagan and Thatcher's compatibility sometimes comes at the expense of a deeper analysis of the ideas that united them. On their economic conservatism, Wapshott is insightful and exhaustive; on the ideas driving their foreign policy, he is less thorough, and more detailed comparison of Thatcher's cold Methodism and Reagan's sense of God's purpose after his attempted assassination would have been welcome. Throughout, Wapshott favors the nitty-gritty, painting a portrait of the friendship that shaped the 1980s and the alliance that won the Cold War. (Nov.)
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"Simon Vance straddles the gap between presenting history and creating a dramatic story.... His approach makes for an interesting listen that doesn't distract from the details." ---AudioFile --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sentinel HC (November 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595230475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595230478
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicholas Wapshott is an author, journalist and biographer who is both British and American. Having worked on The Scotsman, The Times, The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph, he was the national and foreign editor of the New York Sun, was part of the launch team for The Daily Beast, was editorial director of Oprah Winfrey's website and is now the International Editor of Newsweek.
Alongside his journalism he has always written biographies which display his dual interest in both the cinema and political economy. His first was a hugely entertaining and funny life of the rapscallion Peter O'Toole. His second was of another actor: Margaret Thatcher, whose rise, premiership and fall he reported at close quarters for The Times and The Observer.
His third life was of one of the masters of British cinema, Carol Reed, and it remains the definitive biography of the director of The Third Man. He was helped by, among others, Graham Greene, who wrote three screenplays for Reed, and an actor who worked with Reed before and after World War II, Rex Harrison, who became the subject of Wapshott's fourth biography.
There was a short withdrawal from writing books when he became first the editor of The Times's Saturday magazine, then overall editor of the Saturday edition. He moved to live in New York City just before the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, eventually left The Times and joined the Sunday Telegraph as a business feature writer and news reporter.
At this time he wrote a joint lift of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, using his extensive background knowledge of Thatcher and revealing in detail for the first time, with the help of 20 years of recently opened public archives, the extent of their political and personal friendship. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage, for Sentinel (Penguin), remains the key inside account of this fascinating and formidable political alliance.
Wapshott's next book, for W.W.Norton, considerably changed his reputation. Keynes Hayek: the clash that defined modern economics, became an instant classic, an essential requirement for budding students of economics and political economy as well as politicians taking part in the great debate over whether, in light of the Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession, governments should intervene in an attempt to restore growth or whether it was best to leave the market to cure the Slump. The account tells for the first time the personal and intellectual duel between the two standard bearers of Keynesian economics and the rearguard action of market economists which continues to rage among politicians and economists to this day.
November 2014 saw publication of The Sphinx: Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists and the Road to World War II, which again used an historical story to address a current political movement: the war weariness of Americans and a return to isolationism that emerged ten years after the US fought wars simultaneously in Afghanistan and Iraq. The book tells for the first time how FDR used all his political wiles to turn around public opinion in favor of helping Britain against the dictators against fierce opposition from some of the most influential Americans of the time: William Randolph Hearst, Charles Lindbergh, Joseph Kennedy Sr., Henry Ford and Walt Disney.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sam Sattler on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Seldom have two heads-of-state been better matched to work for common goals than were Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. However, neither their personal relationship nor their political one was as placid as usually portrayed for benefit of the general public on both sides of the Atlantic. Nicholas Wapshott's dual biography, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage, offers a more realistic look at the personal relationship that helped change the course of world history by so directly contributing to the end of the Cold War.

Reagan and Thatcher, whose terms in office overlapped by the eight years of Reagan's presidency, first met in 1975 at the suggestion of a friend of Reagan's who believed that the two would be natural political allies. At the time of their meeting, Thatcher had just been elected Conservative leader and Reagan had just finished his second term as governor of California and was being pressed by some for a run at the presidency. On that eventful day, the pair found their political views to be almost identical and they forged an alliance, both personal and political, that would remain strong and productive throughout Reagan's entire term as President of the United States.

Margaret Thatcher saw Ronald Reagan as an inspirational figure but Reagan's tremendous respect for her political skills, and his willingness to listen to her and to take her advice on a regular basis, placed Thatcher in the unusual position of being almost an unofficial member of the Reagan Cabinet. As a result, Thatcher influenced American international policy like no world leader other than Winston Churchill had ever done before her.
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Format: Hardcover
Nicholas Wapshott gives us a dual biography of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and what he calls their `political marriage' during the 1980s when they were the hugely popular leaders of the United States and Great Britain. He shows us their childhood and the unlikely careers that finally lead to the White House and #10 Downing Street. It is interesting to remember that Thatcher's period as Prime Minister began before and ended after Reagan's Presidency. However, Reagan seemed to leave office with greater comfort than Thatcher did. Of course, Reagan was term limited while Thatcher ended up being undermined by her party as well as the accumulation of political missteps.

Wapshott presents their careers and lives in a largely positive light, but does not shy away from criticism. Nor does he favor either Reagan or Thatcher. He shows the strengths of each as well as their blind spots. What the book excels at is showing their friendship and its being stronger than their sometimes vehement disagreements. These periods of confrontation are fascinating. The book bills itself as featuring previously unpublished correspondence, and it delivers these very interesting letters, but there are not as many of them as I had expected. This doesn't detract from the book in any way, but I just thought you should know that this isn't primarily a book of correspondence between the two world leaders.

Were Thatcher and Reagan as important a global leadership team as Churchill and FDR? Maybe not quite, but their partnership during a critical period of the Cold War certainly helped it become a period LATE in the Cold War. Wapshott is not so sure that they caused the fall of the Soviet Union as much as they were in office when the USSR ran out of gas.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marvin D. Pipher on April 6, 2009
Having read upwards of fifty books by and about Ronald Reagan, his family and his administration, before reading this one, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about America's 40th President. I was wrong. I failed to realize that all of the previous books which I had read addressed Reagan, his policies, his actions, and his achievements from the perspective of America as a sovereign nation. This book takes a somewhat different approach and thereby lets the reader see Reagan from a slightly different personal and political perspective. Most importantly, the reader gets to see some of Reagan's major policies as they were viewed by England's Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and by Europe's other political leaders.

This tells an interesting tale and gives the reader much food for thought, particularly in regard to Reagan's quest to rid the world of nuclear weapons. In Reagan's mind this would make the world a safer place in which to live. Margaret Thatcher and Europe's leaders, however, saw this somewhat differently. In their view, the nuclear threat which had been hanging over Europe since the 1950s had thus far prevented another World War. Without those weapons, and in the face of the Soviet threat, they feared that Europe would be at the mercy of the Soviet Union's far superior ground forces.

As a result, Thatcher did everything in her power to convince Reagan not to negotiate away the free world's nuclear weapons - but Reagan would not be deterred. Strangely enough, in view of the situation in the world today, one can only wonder if perhaps she was right.
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