November 14, 2007


We Happy Two: a review of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage by Nicholas Wapshott (ANDREW STUTTAFORD, November 5, 2007, NY Sun)

One of the more poignant features of the current competition among Republican presidential hopefuls, fiercely fighting for a chance to lose to Senator Clinton in 2008, has been a series of missions to Maggie. Mitt Romney saw Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister, late last year in Washington, D.C., while Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani were at pains to include meetings with the Iron Lady in the course of their recent trips to London. The political consequences of such encounters will, I'd guess, be minimal, but the briskly written, perceptive, and, ultimately, moving "Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage" (Sentinel, 336 pages, $25.95), by The New York Sun's Nicholas Wapshott, helps explain why, nearly two decades after she was driven from office, a frail, elderly Englishwoman still merits visits from American politicians looking to win the most powerful job in the world.

As its title would suggest, the focus of this volume is the personal alliance of Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher, a combination that represented the most productive and historically significant incarnation of the Special Relationship between England and America since that astonishingly effective blend of Anglo-American genes better known as Sir Winston Churchill (whose mother was, of course, from Brooklyn). Well-buttressed by skillfully chosen quotations from letters and telephone records (some previously unpublished), the central story of "Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher" is of a relationship between two politicians of conviction whose friendship, shared goals, and remarkable ability to reinforce and support each other through some very difficult times were key features of international politics in the 1980s — and, so it was to turn out, critical factors in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

Given his subject matter, it's to be expected that Mr. Wapshott has somewhat less to say about the domestic scene on either side of the Atlantic. Yet, American readers may also find that this book makes an excellent, if brief, introduction to Mrs. Thatcher's career as a whole.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 14, 2007 11:16 PM

Perhaps the most remarkable fact about this remarkable duo is that they understood the opportunity presented by Gorbachev if they changed their tactics but not their goal.

Posted by: Ibid at November 15, 2007 7:55 AM