CHURCHILL'S GRAND ALLIANCE: The Anglo-American Special Relationship 1940-57 by John Charmley
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CHURCHILL'S GRAND ALLIANCE: The Anglo-American Special Relationship 1940-57

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Charmley (History/Univ. of East Anglia) follows up his Churchill: The End of Glory (1993) with an account of the Anglo-American ""special relationship"" from 1940 to 1957. Winston Churchill, a Jerome from Brooklyn on his mother's side, cherished a sentimental attitude toward Americans. Besides his heritage, there was a fashion for woolly pan-Anglo-Saxonism during his young manhood. In his earlier volume, Charmley argued that the post-WW II dissolution of empire was the result of the ""grand old barnacle['s]"" misguided sentimentalism. As Charmley points out here, Churchill tended to forget who won the American Revolution and that the Americans might have their own postwar agenda. Now he follows the so-called ""special relationship"" up to British efforts to pursue independent foreign policy goals in the Middle East, culminating in the 1956 Suez Crisis and the fall of the Eden government. Along the way, he drops some unusual opinions: The Russians really made the difference in WW II. The charming and opaque FDR bamboozled the Brits. Foppish Anthony Eden was a visionary. MacMillan sucked up to the Yanks for a financial ""fig leaf."" To American--or is it just modern?--eyes he writes from a curious perspective of bitterness for Britain's lost imperial greatness. He claims ""that America wanted a compliant, non-imperial Britain as part of the European federation""--which does not seem an especially unreasonable diplomatic goal. But behind Charmley's dropped-ice-cream-cone attitude toward imperial sunset is some of the most vivid, sharply analyzed, lively history being written. In a world full of faux iconoclasts, Charmley is the real McCoy. He is witty, informed, and less debatable here than in his last effort. Cuts to the chase and to the quick, as much as one can do either in modern English history.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace