Ronald Reagan Tried to Talk Margaret Thatcher Into Reading Tom Clancy

Illustration for article titled Ronald Reagan Tried to Talk Margaret Thatcher Into Reading Tom Clancy

Oh, to be a fly on the wall the time Ronald Reagan tried to convince Margaret Thatcher she should read a Tom Clancy book.


The U.K.’s National Archives has just released a new batch of declassified documents, including many from Thatcher’s years as prime minister. And Bloomberg Businessweek points out that, if you look at the stack of documents from immediately after an arms-control summit with Gorbachev in Rekjavik, you’ll find a memo from Thatcher’s private secretary Charles Powell, recapping a phone call between Reagan and the PM. His recounting of the book recommendation surely must be one of the Cold War’s most bone-dry notes:

“The president strongly recommended to the prime minister a new book by the author of Red October called (I think) Red Storm Rising. It gave an excellent picture of the Soviet Union’s intentions and strategy. He had clearly been much impressed by the book.”


Reagan loved Clancy, and in fact the president’s praise of The Hunt for Red October helped the author get his blockbuster career off the ground.

Anyway, we got through the 1980s without a thermonuclear apocalypse and that’s what counts.

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Photo via Getty Images.

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I never really thought much of Margaret Thatcher one way or another, recent history doesn’t fall into my wheelhouse. But I went out for pints with some Irish second cousins who were in town when Thatcher’s name was mentioned and, holy shit do they hate her. One of them actually spit on the floor after uttering her name. There was vivid talk of pissing on her grave. Apparently this is a widely held sentiment in Ireland. It was interesting, to say the least.