Gladstone and Disraeli were the fiercest political rivals of the modern age. Their intense hatred was ideological and deeply personal. Victorian Britain ruled the oceans and vast territories 'on which the sun never set'. The vitriolic duel between Gladstone and Disraeli was nothing less than a battle to lead the richest and most powerful nation on earth. To Disraeli, his antagonist was an 'unprincipled maniac' characterised by an 'extraordinary mixture of envy, vindictiveness, hypocrisy and superstition'. For Gladstone, his rival was 'The Grand Corrupter' whose destruction he plotted 'day and night, week by week, month by month'. Victorians were electrified by the confrontation. No wonder that when Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass appeared in 1871, so many readers recognised the great adversaries as the warring lion and unicorn 'fighting for the crown'. Richard Aldous gives us the first modern telling of this dramatic story of an intense and momentous rivalry. His vivid narrative style - at turns powerful, witty, stirring and theatrical - breathes new life into a familiar, half-remembered tale that is pivotal in Britain's island history. The Lion and the Unicorn is a brilliant rethinking of the Gladstone and Disraeli story for a new generation. Richard Aldous confirms a perennial truth: in politics, everything is personal.
Richard Aldous holds the Eugene Meyer Chair at Bard College, New York. His numerous books include REAGAN AND THATCHER (New York Times Editors' Choice, Sunday Times Best Books of the Summer, Christian Science Monitor Best Books of the Year, Publishers Weekly Starred Review), THE LION AND THE UNICORN: GLADSTONE VS. DISRAELI (Independent, Daily Telegraph, Irish Times books of the year) and GREAT IRISH SPEECHES (an Irish Times No.1 bestseller). Richard writes and reviews for the New York Times, the Irish Times and the Sunday Telegraph, and is a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic.
Praise for REAGAN AND THATCHER: THE DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP:
'This well-informed account casts new light on the heroic version of the two leaders' association.' New York Times 'Editor's Choice.'
"This gripping account of their difficult relationship reads like a thriller." Sunday Times "Must Reads" and Best Books of the Summer.
"This wonderful new history by Bard College professor Richard Aldous makes clear that the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was far more challenging and complex than is widely recognized." Christian Science Monitor Best Books of 2012.
'This brilliant book reminds readers of the simple lesson that in diplomacy, interests often trump ideology -- and spin trumps both.' Foreign Affairs.
'Intelligent, authoritative and extremely readable.' The Spectator.
'A well-researched, well-written and revisionist double portrait.' Wall Street Journal
'Aldous deserves nothing but credit for the masterly way in which he weaves accounts from published memoirs and recently declassified US material into a pacey, almost thriller-like account of the meetings and telephone calls between these two political giants. This is a work of history that can be read at one sitting.' Sunday Times.
'It is a remarkable story, which deserves the fresh account that Richard Aldous, a professor of history at Bard College, gives it in Reagan and Thatcher. His book casts new light on the heroic version in which two great leaders continued the struggle for freedom waged for generations past by "the English-speaking peoples."' New York Times
'What Aldous manages to achieve is strong research with a vivid narrative style, bringing the most dramatic moments to life.' Guardian.
"An accurate picture of the Reagan-Thatcher dance does us all a favor." Daily Beast "Hot Reads".
'This is excellent revisionist history, giving another slant to the interaction of two political icons on the world stage.' Publishers Weekly (starred review).
"Reagan and Thatcher, a wonderful new book by Bard College professor Richard Aldous, makes clear that their alliance was far more challenging and complex than is widely recognized." Christian Science Monitor.
'This is a well-researched, highly readable book that effectively analyzes the relationship of the two leaders.' Washington Times.
"Aldous makes a compelling case that this important relationship between two historic figures was often complex ... The book offers a well-researched, well-written account of two friends in the heat of battle." Dallas Morning Post
'The portrait of these powerful figures is well drawn and particularly gives the reader a new view of Reagan as a more effective leader than some have portrayed him in the past. In scholarship it supersedes other works on the Reagan-Thatcher relationship.' Philadelphia Inquirer
"Thorough and engaging new history." Slate
'Aldous makes a thorough and compelling case that the Reagan-Thatcher relationship was as difficult as it was "special".' The Hill
'This eminently readable and fascinating book.' Irish Times.
'Richard Aldous has written a vivid, jaunty and highly readable account of the working relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.' The Tablet
"Throughout, Aldous carefully and persuasively demonstrates the elaborate care each took to 'handle' the other, precautions unnecessary had the relationship been as close as publicly portrayed ... A revealing look at the political marriage of two titans, who, like Roosevelt and Churchill, will be forever linked in history.'
"Vivid, fast-paced and immensely readable, Richard Aldous' new book challenges conventional wisdom and prods us to rethink the 1980s."
David Reynolds, author of 'America, Empire of Liberty'.
"An important study, based on a wealth of recently-released documents, which puts the Thatcher-Reagan friendship in a wholy new (and more somber) light. It should be essential reading for anyone who cares about the history, the health and the future of the Anglo-American 'special relationship'."
David Cannadine, Author of 'The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy' and 'Mellon: An American Life'.
"I can't speak for President Reagan, but I've been both praised and pulverized by Margaret Thatcher, and Richard Aldous seems to me to have captured the force of her personality. She did have an emotional understanding of Reagan and he of her that in its essence, in my judgement, was warmer than between Churchill and Roosevelt. But her fury was incandescent over the invasion of Grenada, a member of the Commonwealth, as was the wimpiness of the initial American reaction to the seizure of the Falkland Islands. This is a valuable look behind the looking glass of public-relations politics of the special relationship."
Harold Evans, author of 'The American Century'.
Praise for THE LION AND THE UNICORN: GLADSTONE VS. DISRAELI:
`Mutual loathing made their bruising encounters a riveting spectacle, richly enjoyed by the British public and recaptured, with great zest, by Richard Aldous in The Lion and the Unicorn.' New York Times.
`It does full justice to the drama inherent in a battle for political supremacy that was central to British history for decades.' Sunday Times.
'A cracking good read which captures the battle between these two extraordinary personalities.' Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor.
`With The Lion and the Unicorn, this epic showdown has found a worthy champion.' Literary Review
'Aldous's enthralling narative is notably judicious.' Independent on Sunday.
'Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone are the subjects of this engaging and gracefully written book. Why should Americans care about the rivalry between two British politicians who died more than a century ago? Because the events described in this book remind us of an important and timely truth.' National Review.
'Why such a book as this? Well, for enjoyment, among other things. Aldous is a gifted writer ... Still their story more than entertains. It instructs.' Weekly Standard.
`Connoisseurs of political rivalry have had much to enjoy this year, not least a history of the struggle for power between Gladstone and Disraeli.' Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year.
`The result is a hugely enjoyable joint biography.' The Independent.
`Aldous's smooth pacing and adroit writing bring a forgotten world back to life and demonstrate how two forceful if warring personalities can create a history that neither could have achieved acting alone.' Publishers Weekly.
`A rousing portrait of 19th-century England's most venomous political rivalry, featuring a highly readable exploration into the dueling natures of two powerful men.' Kirkus Reviews.
`Aldous deftly analyses this peculiar relationship, but also dramatises it - and does so with great panache.' Daily Telegraph.
`This lively joint biography makes clear they utterly loathed each other.' The Guardian.
`Richard Aldous has written an entertaining and thought-provoking book.' The Spectator.
`Aldous describes the different episodes of the rivalry with vividness, capturing the particular flavour of 19th-century political and social life.' New Statesman.
`Richard Aldous has set this drama with just the kind of care and skill these two extraordinary adversaries, authors and politicians undoubtedly deserve.' Irish Times.
'The Lion and the Unicorn - surprisingly, the first attempt at a double-biography of the great Victorian rivals Gladstone and Disraeli.' The Independent, Books of the Year