Winner of the Richard Hofstadter Dissertation Prize 2017
Agent: Anders Stephanson (Colombia), Steven Casey (LSE)
This dissertation examines the interactions and relationships between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher during their argument over the American invasion of Grenada in 1983 with the aim of better understanding the dynamics of the Anglo-American alliance in the 1980s. Many historians point to the Grenada crisis as evidence that the special relationship between the United States and Britain was actually not as special as Reagan and Thatcher's close public relationship suggested at the time. This dissertation takes a broader look at this often overlooked episode, not only to examine the interactions between the American and British governments during the crisis, but also how they worked diligently behind the scenes to enhance Anglo-American relations in the following Months to improve. Rather than uncovering a permanent rift or fundamental weakness in the Reagan-Thatcher relationship, the Grenada dispute arose out of the closeness between the two leaders and their governments, which also enabled them to overcome it and a partnership of uniquely and effective closeness maintain. While their differences of opinion reflected the different priorities of their countries in waging the Cold War around the world, Reagan and Thatcher's unwavering belief in the indispensability of Anglo-American special relations ensured that the Grenada crisis marked a turning point in the strength of their alliance.
Matt's research, funded by the Alliance Fellowship, took him from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California to the British National Archives and the Churchill Archives Center at Cambridge University.
Reagan and Thatcher step outside the Oval Office, Washington, February 26, 1981. Source: THCR 8/1/35, CAC.