Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship

ReaganEnjoyable despite some weaknesses…

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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.

reagan3Aldous 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 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.

Margaret_Thatcher_cropped2

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 on a few less significant incidents. As a result, the central argument of the book seems both weak and unproven.

Nonetheless I feel the book is well researched and gives a good, readable account of some of the most interesting aspects of the Reagan/Thatcher era, as well as a sympathetic and often amusing view of both leaders as people, and on those bases I would recommend it as well worth reading.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

2 thoughts on “Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship

  1. From what I remember there muted outrage in the UK over Grenada and best not to mention the USA to anyone here when talking about The Falklands. That being said however there can rarely have been such a personal rapport and policy alignment between 2 world leaders before or since especially as you say on freemarket economics and a strong robust policy in The Cold War.

    • Yes, I’m not sure why Aldous went down this route. It seemed a strange choice to concentrate on the minor divisions and play down all the big areas where the two were in such close agreement. And it was always very obvious whenever they were filmed together that they really were personally fond of each other, however much they may have driven each other up the wall from time to time.

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