The Churchill Complex: The Curse of Being Special, from Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit

Penguin Pr. Sept. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780525522201. $27. POL SCI
Buruma (human rights & journalism, Bard Coll.; Year Zero: A History of 1945) uses his extensive knowledge of Britain and America to examine the “Special Relationship,” as Winston Churchill called it, between the two nations. The author works chronologically from World War II, as he shows Churchill’s influence on every future prime minister. This book also offers insight into Churchill’s influence on U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama, among others. The examination moves along to John F. Kennedy and Harold Macmillan as they maneuvered through the Cuban Missile Crisis and then to Lyndon B. Johnson and the start of the Vietnam War. The analysis of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher is especially poignant as the philosophies on both sides of the Atlantic started to become more conservative. Buruma provides the major reason for this change as neither politician had been personally involved in World War II. The work concludes with an analysis of current President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson as both adhere to national populist views and deal with the Brexit decision.
VERDICT Fans of Buruma’s works, political analysis, and Churchill’s legacy will find much to discover here.
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