In This Review

Fighting With Allies: America and England at Peace and War
Fighting With Allies: America and England at Peace and War
By Sir Robin Renwick
Times Books, 1996, 427 pp.

This engaging narrative of Anglo-American relations begins with a British naval officer sitting down to dinner at a soon-to-be-torched White House in 1814, but it mostly focuses on the years since the Second World War. Renwick, who served as British ambassador to Washington from 1991 to 1995, notes that obituaries proclaiming the demise of the "special relationship" have been one of its regularly recurring features, but that it has nevertheless shown a "Lazarus-like tendency to survive." Even to describe its features has aroused sensitivities, as when Dean Acheson, fearful of alienating allies abroad and Anglophobes at home, ordered destroyed all copies of a State Department paper proclaiming Britain "our principal ally and partner." (Acheson, of course, did not doubt that it was.) Renwick reports fairly, and even with a certain relish, all the unkind cuts delivered on both sides over the years -- many of them eminently deserved -- but also successfully establishes that the relationship has been unusually close and beneficial to both parties. When it was good, it was very, very good, and when it was bad, it was bearable.