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The Churchill Complex

The Curse of Being Special, from Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit

Ian Buruma

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Atlantic Books
17 November 2020
It is impossible to understand the last 75 years of British and American history without understanding the Anglo-American relationship, and specifically the bonds between presidents and prime ministers. FDR of course had Churchill; JFK famously had Macmillan, his consigliere during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Reagan found his ideological soul mate in Thatcher, and George W. Bush found his fellow believer, in religion and in war, in Tony Blair.

In a series of shrewd and absorbing character studies, Ian Buruma takes the reader on a journey through the special relationship via the fateful bonds between president and prime minister. It's never been a relationship of equals: from Churchill's desperate cajoling and conniving to keep FDR on side, British prime ministers have put much more stock in the relationship than their US counterparts did. For Britain, resigned to the loss of its once-great empire, its close kinship to the world's greatest superpower would give it continued relevance, and serve as leverage to keep continental Europe in its place. As Buruma shows, this was almost always fool's gold.

And now, as the links between the Brexit vote and the 2016 US election are coming into sharper focus, it is impossible to understand the populist uprising in either country without reference to Trump and Boris Johnson, though ironically, they are also the key, Buruma argues, to understanding the special relationship's demise.
By:   Ian Buruma
Imprint:   Atlantic Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   610g
ISBN:   9781786494658
ISBN 10:   1786494655
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   17 November 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Ian Buruma was educated in Holland and Japan. He has spent many years in Asia, which he has written about in A Japanese Mirror, Bad Elements and A Tokyo Romance. His other books include: The Wages of Guilt, Murder in Amsterdam (shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), Anglomania, Year Zero and Their Promised Land. He was awarded the Erasmus Prize in 2008 and was named as one of the 100 top global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine in 2010. Buruma lives in New York, where he teaches at Bard College.

Reviews for The Churchill Complex: The Curse of Being Special, from Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit

Fans of Buruma's works, political analysis, and Churchill's legacy will find much to discover here. * Library Journal * [A] brisk and insightful history. . . . Buruma writes fluidly and paints vivid sketches of key figures and moments. Political history buffs will be fascinated. * Publishers Weekly * A smart, lively political history that illuminates the changing relations of two decidedly unequal partners. * Kirkus Reviews * This concise, all-knowing study of the special relationship between Britain and the States pinpoints many recurring themes. * Edmund White, 'Books of the Year', TLS * Well-written... A good popular history and one that does not pull its punches. -- Piers Brendon * Literary Review * Stimulating and highly readable... A rich and rewarding book, the best overview that exists of Anglo-American relations from Churchill-FDR to the bromance between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. * Wall Street Journal *


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