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Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage [Hardcover]

Nicholas Wapshott
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sentinel HC (8 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595230475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595230478
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,210,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying entry to 1980's conservative duo 10 May 2009
When I first saw the book it interested me instantly. I have always thought it a coincidence that both Reagan and Thatcher serving in the same period. Two leaders had so much in common but I had not thought about it like a political marriage. I realised after reading that the Sentinel Publishers which had published the book defines themselves as "tough-minded defenders of America's fundamental values and national interests". My objective look was beginning to fade.

The early lives of the leaders are dealt in a quite detailed way. Ronald being a free soul seeking his fortunes first in radio commentary then in acting while Margaret frequents with the Conservative club in her University. Both marry their beloved ones who will later become their personal advisers at home. The resemblances of the leaders' political lives are also intriguing. Both become their party's first choices then going on to win general elections. First Thatcher will get the post of prime minsitry and she will be still there when Reagan will complete two terms in US presidency. Ronald's destiny was full of detours however. After having lost to Nixon and Ford in the primaries he defeated Bush senior in his third attempt for presidency.

In the office both commanded small scale war operations namely Falklands and Grenada, both had a common enemy in Soviet Union and both had cut government funding in social security spendings much to popular critisation. They got on perfectly well and the writer having armed with all the personal correspondences prove that their's was like a true political marriage. Both were criticised bitterly and both have escaped from attempts on their lives. Reagan from a non-political assassin and Thatcher from an IRA bomb.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The President and Prime Minister 14 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was thoroughly enjoyable and we have both read it again, and will probably read again sometime in the future.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political Dream Team 25 Feb 2008
By Sam Sattler - Published on Amazon.com
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. She was not afraid to make demands of Reagan and she found him a willing listener who could often be moved in the political direction that she preferred as British Prime Minister.

That is not to say that Ronald Reagan always gave in to Margaret Thatcher's arguments, but she knew that she could always count on Reagan to give her point-of-view a fair hearing. Together, the two leaders hastened the demise of the Soviet Union by keeping the "heat" on its leadership and by engaging their two economies in a spending war for military weapons that the Soviets could not long sustain.

On the surface, the two seem to have had little in common. Thatcher's formative years as a shopkeeper's daughter, with a religious father who seldom allowed alcohol in his home, was very different from the childhood endured by Reagan, son of an alcoholic father who could barely afford food and shelter for his family at times. But remarkably Thatcher and Reagan ended up with the same strong beliefs that nothing was more important than family and religious faith. Both believed in hard work and developed a true appreciation for those who made their living in "trade," producing a strong belief in each of them that everyone deserves respect and fair treatment regardless of social class or financial worth, lessons that served each of them well in their political careers.

Nicholas Wapshott's use of the treasure trove of hundreds of recently declassified letters, notes, transcripts of telephone conversations and recollections of many who witnessed the relationship as insiders has resulted in an effective political history of the eighties and the kind of dual biography that political junkies everywhere will enjoy. Taken alone, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher would have likely been recognized as remarkable politicians, but taken together as a unified team with common goals they enjoyed the kind of success that the pairing of George W. Bush and Tony Blair could only dream about. What they accomplished by joining forces was astounding.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dual biography of two great leaders on the world stage during the 1980s 8 May 2008
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
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. While I am not a scholar of the period, I lived through most of the Cold War and followed it closely. I have no doubt that Reagan and Thatcher led the West and made things sufficiently more difficult for the Soviet leaders that they did contribute to its demise. And I am delighted each day that they did. You can't point to the way the West has muffed the post Cold War relationship with Russia to judge it any more than you can say that the Cold War makes our victory in WWII less victorious.

A solid, concise, and interesting telling of these two lives on the world stage.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They stood side-by-side even in the worst of times 6 April 2009
By Marvin D. Pipher - Published on Amazon.com
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.

This book also tells us a lot about Margaret Thatcher, Reagan's most important and trusted ally and a lady who in her own right must be considered, along with Winston Churchill, as one of modern England's greatest Prime Ministers. Interestingly enough, although Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher come across as having been cut from entirely different bolts of cloth, they appear to have been almost perfectly matched - close friends and ideological soul mates who stood side-by-side even in the most trying of times.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does an excellent job 18 Jun 2014
By Kurt A. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
If there was anyone who truly bestrode the 1980s like colossi, it was Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. While they acted upon the world stage, the other nations were forced to deal with them - were forced to react, while they acted. Together they reinvigorated their nations, challenged and defeated the Soviet Empire, and reshaped the modern world in ways that are still being felt some twenty years after their passing from power.

In this fascinating book, author and journalist Nicholas Wapshott, draws on interviews and hundreds of personal correspondences to give a full view of their relationship. Theirs was not the simple, distant relationship enjoyed by most national leaders, instead their relationship was more like a marriage. They shared deeply-held values, they talked out and often fought over policies, and proved impervious to any attempts to set them against each other.

I must admit that I really loved this book. I came of age (politically) during the Carter malaise, and remember the Reagan era with great affection. Plus, what Conservative does not fondly remember Britain’s Iron Lady? This book does an excellent job of giving the reader an inside view of the relationship between Reagan and Thatcher, and really explaining what happened between them and what it meant for the rest of the world.

I think that this book does a great job of giving the reader an insider’s view of the 1980s, informing and explaining. This is one of the best books I have read in a while – and I read many good books – and I do not hesitate to give it my highest recommendations! Buy this book!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two bios for the price of one 18 April 2011
By Newton Ooi - Published on Amazon.com
One often needs partners to achieve something great. Winning the Cold War is a good example, and two partners that led the West to victory were President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher. This book follows their lives from each's birth to Reagan's death. The book explores the origins of each leaders' beliefs, and their rise to political leadership as mavericks within their chosen political parties that appealed to the general population. The book also covers key points of difference and strife in the relationship between the two. Primary emphasis is on their relationship in foreign policy, specifically in dealing with the USSR and then Russia, conflicts in the Middle East, and the Falklands War. The book unfolds in chronological fashion, with equal space given to each leader. The author contrasts the two at numerous points, showing how personal and public traits of each sometimes led to failure, and sometimes led to success. Examples include Reagan's unfailing optimism versus Thatcher's sometimes bullish demeanor and scowl. In conclusion, this was a worthwhile read, interesting and enlightening.
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