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Humphreys, Brendan

 “The Lone Rider of Santa Fe”, The Reagan Hagiography and the End of the Cold War

Popularity polls in the United States consistently rate Ronald Reagan as one of America’s greatest presidents. Surely this high rating is because the Berlin Wall fell just after during Reagan’s second term, and thus he was somehow responsible.
Certainly the American right has taken all credit for ending – even wining – the Cold War, and honours Reagan as a hero of his times. But was he responsible, and if so, to what degree?

From a critical distance, Reagan seems an unlikely candidate, a man of considerable limitations. But for two decades many voices have given huge credence to his supposed pivotal role in ending the Cold War. Historians are generally sceptical of attributing huge changes to one individual agent, but the Regan hagiography makes extraordinary high claims, which seem to revive the “Big Man” history of the 19th Century. Is this a credible view of what happened in the 1980s, or a self-serving conservative fantasy?

Friday 30 Oct, 9.00-11.00 SESSION 4
Panel: The Cold War's Impact on Historiography