Britain, America, and the Special Relationship since 1941: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Britain, America, and the Special Relationship since 1941

1st Edition

By B. J. C McKercher


206 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

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Britain, America and the Special Relationship since 1941 examines the Anglo-American strategic and military relationship that developed during the Second World War and continued until recent years. Forged on a common ground of social, cultural, and ideological values as well as political expediency, this partnership formed the basis of the western alliance throughout the Cold War, playing an essential part in bringing stability to the post-1945 international order.

Clearly written and chronologically organized, the book begins by discussing the origins of the ‘Special Relationship’ and its progression from uneasy coexistence in the eighteenth century to collaboration at the start of the Second World War. McKercher explores the continued evolution of this partnership during the conflicts that followed, such as the Suez Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Falklands War. The book concludes by looking at the developments in British and American politics during the past two decades and analysing the changing dynamics of this alliance over the course of its existence.

Illustrated with maps and photographs and supplemented by a chronology of events and list of key figures, this is an essential introductory resource for students of the political history and foreign policies of Britain and the United States in the twentieth century.


"Brian McKercher’s book is a very useful starting point for students looking for a critical analysis of the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ since 1945."

Tony McCulloch, University College London, UK

Table of Contents

List of figures



Who’s Who


Part I: Prologue

Chapter 1: The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’

 Part II: Britain, America, and the Origins of the Special Relationship

Chapter 2: The Anglo-American Relationship before 1939

The Uneasy Relationship, 1782-1900

Britain, America, and Stability in International Politics, 1900-1914

The Drift to Co-operation in the First World War

The Paris Peace Conference and the American Return

to Isolationism, 1919-

Anglo-American Economic Competition, 1919-1939

Arms Limitation and International Security, 1919-1939


Chapter 3: The Second World War and the

Advent of the ‘Special Relationship’

The Immediate Origins of the Relationship,

September 1939-December 1941

Churchill and Roosevelt: War and Diplomacy,

December 1941-November 1943

Britain, America, and the Advent of a New International Order,

November 1943-May 1945


Part III: Cold War, Limited War, and the ‘Special Relationship’, 1945-2015

Chapter 4: The ‘Special Relationship’ and the Early Cold War,

May 1945-July 1954

The Genesis of the Cold War, May 1945-June 1948

The German Question and the Rise of NATO, June 1948-May 1954

Britain, America, and Decolonisation in East Asia, May 1945-July 1954

Chapter 5: From Cold War to Détente, 1954-1968

British decolonisation and the Road to Suez, 1954-1956 Britain, America, and the Problem of the Middle East,

November 1956-November 1968

European Defense and the German Question, 1954-1968

Chapter 6: From Détente to Renewed Cold War, 1965-1979

Britain and American Involvement in Vietnam, January 1965-April 1973

Britain, America, and European Economic Integration,

January 1969-December 1979

Soviet Russian Expansionism and the Anglo-American

Response, May 1975-December 1979


Chapter 7: Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and the ‘Special

Relationship’, December 1979-December 1988

Carter, Reagan, and Thatcher: To Euromissile

Deployment in Europe, 1981-1985

The Falklands War and the Strength of

the ‘Special Relationship’, 1982-1983

Thatcher, Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev:

The Weakening of Soviet Russia, 1983-1988


Chapter 8: The ‘Special Relationship’ and the

New International Order, 1989-2015

George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher,

and the End of the Cold War, 1989-1990

The ‘Special Relationship’ and the Gulf War, 1990-1992

Britain, America, and the Balkans, 1992-1998

George Bush, Jr, Tony Blair, the War Against Terrorism, and Changing

International Politics, 2001-2007

Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron:

Challenges Old and New after 2007

 Part IV: Epilogue

Chapter 9: The Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’ and International

Politics since 1941: An Appraisal

Part V: Documents 


Guide to Further Reading



About the Author

B.J.C. McKercher is Professor of International History at the University of Victoria, Canada. He is the editor of the journal Diplomacy and Statecraft and is general editor of The Praeger Series on Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period (with K. E. Neilson) and The Praeger Series on Diplomacy and Strategic Thought. His recent publications include The Handbook of Diplomacy and Statecraft (2011, edited), War in the Twentieth Century (2003, edited with M. A. Hennessy) and Power and Stability: British Foreign Policy, 1865-1965 (2003, edited with E. Goldstein).

About the Series

Seminar Studies

Each book in the Seminar Studies series provides a concise and reliable introduction to a wide range of complex historical events and debates, covering topics in British, European, US and world history from the early modern period to the present day. Written by acknowledged experts and including supporting material such as extracts from historical documents, chronologies, glossaries, guides to key figures and further reading suggestions, Seminar Studies titles are essential reading for students of history.

Almost half a century after its launch, the series continues to introduce students to the problems involved in explaining the past, giving them the opportunity to grapple with historical documents and encouraging them to reach their own conclusions. To submit proposals for new books in the Seminar Studies series, please contact the series editors:

Clive.Emsley: clive.emsley @

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century