John Dumbrell has written a witty and erudite essay on the "special relationship". He argues that it dates from Churchill's use of the term in 1943, but chooses to concentrate on the relatively neglected period since 1960.
He deals with top-level diplomacy and politics, but opens with a thought-provoking review of the cultural relations between Britain and America. The next three chapters narrate the main events from Kennedy-Macmillan to Clinton-Blair. Dumbrell then launches into thematic reviews of nuclear, defence and intelligence cooperation, of how the alliance was tested by wars in Vietnam, the Falklands and the Gulf, of the significance for the special relationship of European integration, and of the Irish problem as an impediment to good British-American relations.
Undergraduates studying international relations will find in this book a treasury of discussion stimuli: observations that the German people are more pro-American than the British, for example, and that Ronald Reagan broke the mould of US support for European integration, joking with the British prime minister about the lunacy of the Common Agricultural Policy.
But it is surprising that such a cosmopolitan scholar uses the phrase "Anglo-American relations" - at least to any scholar working in Scotland.
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones is professor of American history, University of Edinburgh.
A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations in the Cold War and After
Author - John Dumbrell
ISBN - 0 333 62250 2
Publisher - Palgrave Macmillan
Price - £16.50
Pages - 258