The Big Three who ended the Cold War

Historians argue endlessly and pointlessly about the extent to which the human factor rather than brute circumstance determines the course of events. History, geography and economic reality always constrain personal freedom of action. But within these limitations the individual can make a decisive difference. Britain’s war would have taken a different turn if Halifax rather than Churchill had become prime minister in May 1940. Archie Brown’s thesis is that the Cold War could have ended quite differently— much later and perhaps much more bloodily — had it not been for the fortuitous combination of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1997 Brown published The Gorbachev Factor, a pioneering