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The “Special Relationship”

ronald_reagan_41.jpgIn the wake of Brexit, my boyfriend Garrett, my mom and I re-watched The Iron Lady. The first time I saw it, my friend Caitlin and I were in the 11th grade. It was the day after our school’s “Brown and White” dance, and we had nothing better to do. On top of that, we were on a mission to get out more. (Although I’m not quite sure if motivating one’s self to go a movie theater is really ‘getting out more.’ Hm.) Nonetheless, both times I viewed it I was really struck by the film’s ultra-humanizing portrayal of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. I walked away from this most recent showing in a bit of a pickle. Did I like the longest reigning PM or not? Did my opinion matter? So I started doing some research. In particular, I bought John Campbell’s The Iron Lady. I’m only one hundred pages in, with several hundred more to go, and I’m still not remotely sure of what I think about her. I don’t know whether I’m reading this to learn about her as a person-person, distinct from her role in government, or as a Prime Minister. I also don’t know if such a task is even possible. images.jpg

ap_reagan_thatcher_kb_130722_16x9_992.jpgI’ve encountered this dilemma once before when I started reading the H.W. Brands’ tome Reagan: The Life. The whole reason I wanted to learn more about him stemmed from a conversation I had with a distant relative. He ranked Reagan as the worst President in American history. (This seemed a bit rough, considering Jackson and his Trail of Tears, but whatever.) At the same time, I’d just spoken to a friend about how much her whole family adored, even seemed to worship, Reagan. Also, can we all note that these figures overlapped in history? That they had even forged a ’special relationship’ with one another? Something’s up with that.

news-graphics-2008-_662302a.jpgIt’s complicated assessing recent polarizing figures in history. Some are regarded as entirely bad, while others are regarded as entirely good. For leaders that struck cords within such disparate, extreme sectors, I can’t seem to reconcile those factors and form an opinion. I find it even more complicated when I talk to people I xxx-ap8107210257-4_3.jpgadmire about this topic, especially when I receive a wide array of different answers. I guess I have to learn to cull this information and form my own opinion. (But I don’t even know what the opinion is really, truly in reference to!) 

Ramblings and questions aside, both “Reagan: A Life” and “The Iron Lady” have proven to be great reads so far. Whatever your news-graphics-2004-_572766a.jpgopinion on these stalwart leaders of the 1980’s, there’s a bunch of interesting information. Between fact checking Reagan’s claims about the number of people he saved as a lifeguard, and confronting Thatcher’s un-feminist approach to governing, there’s definitely some great, well-developed opinion writing in these biographies. It’s surprisingly more fair than I would have expected— and annoyingly so. If only one of the authors had swung me in a particular direction, I wouldn’t be struggling with this topic so much! Does anyone have a clear, formulated opinion on Reagan or Thatcher? I’d love to hear it! 

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