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The President, the Pope, And the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World Hardcover – October 1, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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From the Inside Flap

They Changed the Course of History

They were three "middle managers" no one imagined could reach the top.

Ronald Reagan was too old to be president and too conservative anyway. Margaret Thatcher was not only too conservative she was a woman, and not on anyone's short list to lead Britain's Conservative Party. And the idea of a Polish pope that was truly absurd, especially when the cardinal in question was a strong anti-Communist and defender of orthodoxy when many in the Church and throughout the world believed the future belonged to détente with the Soviets and social liberalism in the West.

Not only did Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Karol Wojtyla (the future John Paul II) rise to the top, but all three of them also survived assassination attempts, collaborated in the miraculous peaceful liberation of Eastern Europe from Soviet Communism, and reinvigorated their respective countries and the West. They were beacons of optimism cutting through the malaise and despair that afflicted 1970s America, strike-ridden and economically moribund post-imperial Britain, and a Catholic Church rocked by social and sexual revolutions.

In The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister, veteran journalist and former Thatcher speechwriter John O'Sullivan reveals:

● How Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul developed as strong and individual leaders, perfectly suited to take power when liberalism failed How John Paul's papal visit to Poland in June 1979 led to the birth of the Solidarity labor union

● How the pope's moral undermining of Communism worried the Soviet Politburo more than any military threat

● Why Thatcher's handling of the Falklands crisis was a turning point in the Cold War

● How Reagan arranged for the pope to receive U.S. intelligence on developments in the Soviet bloc

● Reagan's reluctant support for the nuclear "balance of terror" and how he gratefully adopted the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) as an effective alternative

● The Soviets' attempts to lure the pope into an anti-SDI campaign and his refusal

● How Reagan's refusal to compromise with Gorbachev in Reykjavik precipitated the unraveling of Soviet power

● How Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II restored optimism and hope to their people

Today, as we face a new and perhaps even deadlier enemy than Soviet Communism, we need to revisit the powerful lessons taught by these three great leaders who revived the faith, prosperity, and freedom of the West.

John O'Sullivan covered the Reagan presidency as a Washington columnist, was a special adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and has written regularly on Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church's influence on international relations. A veteran journalist in Britain and the United States, he was the editor in chief of National Review, The National Interest, Policy Review, and United Press International, editorial page editor of the New York Post, op-ed and editorial page editor for the London Times, and an editor with the London Daily Telegraph. He is currently editor at large for National Review, a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, and a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute. A Commander of the British Empire and founder of the New Atlantic Initiative, he divides his time between his apartment in Washington, D.C., his home in Decatur, Alabama, and frequent trips to Britain, Europe, and Latin America.

About the Author

John O'Sullivan was special advisor to Margaret Thatcher; met (and as a journalist covered) President Reagan on a number of occasions both official and private; as well as wrote about and had the privilege of an audience with Pope John Paul II. A distinguished international journalist, he has been associate editor of the Times, editor in chief at National Review, and editor in chief of United Press International. He is currently a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery History; First Edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596980168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596980167
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
They were unlikely world-changers. As the 1970s dawned, writes John O'Sullivan, they were leaders with uneven prospects, each weighed down by fundamental flaws: Cardinal Wojtyla, too Catholic; Governor Reagan, too American; Lady Thatcher, too Conservative.

The Cardinal, an "orthodox rebel" in O'Sullivan's term, was seen as out of step with the increasing liberalization of the Church in the wake of Vatican II. As a non-Italian practicing behind the Iron Curtain, his chances of ascending to the Papacy seemed nil.

Reagan was a successful politician, then in his second term as California Governor, and a darling of the Right. But his free-enterprise convictions, can-do optimism and stalwart anti-Communism seemed an anachronism in an age of stagflation, perceived limits to growth (misperceived it turned out) and détente with the Soviets. Being the "first off the treadmill" was "the only victory the arms race had to offer," wrote the chief U.S. arms control negotiator in 1975, reflecting widely held bi-partisan opinion at the time.

Thatcher was the education minister in a weak Tory government that increasingly ceded economic policy to radical labor unions and presided over the continued diminution of Britain on the world stage. Thatcher's message of fiscal prudence, privatization, monetarism and individual initiative/self-reliance ran counter to the prevailing Keynesian economic standard of the time. As a woman, the highest office thought possible for her was Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), and even that was considered a long-shot.

O'Sullivan tells the story of how each of these "misfits" (my word, not his)rose to greatness in spite of their handicaps.
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Format: Hardcover
Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot. Pope John Paul II, without any divisions save his faithful flock, shook an ossified communist establishment to its core. Margaret Thatcher infused not only Britain but the Western alliance with a new sense of urgency and energy. In this sparkling book, John O'Sullivan seamlessly weaves together these strands of history to recount the central drama of the late-twentieth century: how three moral and political giants tore down the Berlin Wall and ended an "evil" empire. It is a powerful story, a case where fact is more formidable than fiction. In O'Sullivan's hands it is also a riveting read. He brings it to life in mesmerizing detail, while recalling the knife-edge tension of the Cold War, when all was in play, an unnerving element of the era that has, alas, receded from the consciousness of so many commentators today. John O'Sullivan's new volume reminds us of what exactly was at stake, namely, the survival of liberty. This accomplishment alone makes it essential. That the book achieves so much more makes it indispensable.

Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher. John O'Sullivan's study reveals what linked these three protagonists: their sustained commitment to a profound moral and political philosophy built upon the first principles of Western civilization, including the ascendancy of the Almighty, the dignity of the individual, and the liberating energy of freedom. These values are what placed them in diametrical opposition to international Communism. They hewed to them, as O'Sullivan vividly recalls, even in the face of death, since all three survived assassination attempts. While staring down the barrel of a gun - or, in Thatcher's case, the twisted mind of a depraved IRA bomber - they defended the sanctity of liberty.
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Format: Hardcover
In the words of John O' Sullivan:

"It is rare for secular-minded people to sense the hand of Providence in history or at least to admit doing so but even quite dedicated atheists saw his election as pope in 1978 as a world-changing event.

One such, Yuri Andropov, then head of the KGB, warned that a Polish pope would likely destabilize the Soviet Union by giving hope to the nations held captive within it. Eleven years later the evil empire crumbled and the captive nations emerged blinking into the light of freedom.

Others played vital roles in that liberation Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, the heroic dissidents behind the Iron Curtain but the pope had provided its spiritual impulse.

Within months of his 1979 papal visit to Poland, during which he called upon Poles to "recognize evil", there were riots by Polish workers, the rise of Solidarity and the spread of anti-communist dissidence throughout eastern Europe.

In the words of British historian Neal Ascherson, the pope's visit was a "lance head" that "went straight into the bowels of the whole Soviet empire, and gave it a wound from which it simply didn't recover".

His continuing influence, moreover, ensured that the democratic revolutions of the 1980s were peaceful as well as successful. If the pope had achieved nothing more in his lifetime than to be the religious spark of liberty in Europe, he would be a historical figure of the first rank in the world."

And Ronald Reagan & Margaret Thatcher, with the power to do so, did what they could on more concrete levels. What about Gorbachev? "Gorbachev played an important part"but "Without Reagan, no Gorbachev,"as O'Sullivan said on C-SPAN in November 2006.
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