TAS207 The special relationship: Britain and the United States from the II World War to the War of Terror

Teacher responsible:

Dr. Christopher Reeves

Brief course description:

The course will be a detailed examination of the political relationship between the United States and Britain from 1939 to the present day. It will seek to assess whether a 'special relationship' has existed and whether it continues to exist, between the two countries. It will also try to identify the foundations upon which this relationship have been built, and will attempt to assess whether the degree of "specialness" in this relationship has varied throughout the period that this course deals with.


By the end of the course, students will be expected to have a thorough grounding on the history of the Anglo-American alliance. Furthermore, students will be expected to be familiar with the principal debates within the literature. Students will be assessesd on the basis of a written essay and a final examination.


1.  Introduction: Interpreting the Special Relationship.
2. The beginnings of  'specialness' : World War II and the Anglo-American Alliance.
3. Anglo-American relations and European Security, 1945-55.
4. Britain, the US and the Korean War.
5. The first Transatlantic Crisis: Suez,1956, and the Middle East.
6.Mac and Jack: The Golden Days of the Special   Relationship?
7. From Manhattan to Polaris: Anglo-American nuclear co-operation and non-cooperation.
8.  The United States and Britain's retreat from Empire.
9. Britain and the war in Vietnam.
10.The Special Relationship, Europe, and de Gaulle's Challenge.
11. Anglo-American relations from Detente.
12. The Special Relationship from the New Cold War to the 1990s.
13. The United States and the Northern Ireland peace process.
14. The Special Relationship and the War on Terror.
15. The Special Relationship in the twenty-first century: debating different perspectives.

Reading list:

John Dumbrell, A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations from the Cold War to Iraq, 2nd ed., Basingstoke, Palgrave 2006.
Alan Dobson, Anglo-American Relations in the Twentieth-Century, Abingdon: Routledge, 1995.
David Reynolds, From World War to Cold War: Churchill, Roosevelt, and the International History of the 1940s, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.