Lyndon Johnson, Harold Wilson, and the Vietnam War : a not so special relationship?

Sylvia Ellis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This single-authored book chapter examines how far the Vietnam War tested the personal and working relationship between President Lyndon Johnson and Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The chapter is the first significant study of this relationship and sought to assess the widely-held view that the two world leaders found it difficult to work with one another. It assesses their backgrounds, political beliefs and behaviours, and views on Anglo-American relations in order to demonstrate the possibilities inherent in their relationship. It extends the debate amongst historians on the role of personality in high-level diplomacy by examining the difficulties of maintaining a strong Anglo-American relationship during periods when the two nations have fewer common interests on the international scene. The chapter draws on archival research on both sides of the Atlantic as well as on relevant secondary literature. It is also based on extensive off-the-record oral interviews with British and American politicians and diplomats who observed the Wilson-Johnson relationship. The chapter is a revised version of a paper delivered at a conference on ‘Anglo-American Relations in the Twentieth Century’ at the Institute of Contemporary British History, London, 1998 and is published in an edited volume of selected essays arising from the conference. The research involved in this project on President Lyndon Johnson led to three funded invitations to speak on Johnson and the White House Tapes and a publication on the topic in 'History Today' (2006).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTwentieth-century Anglo-American Relations
EditorsJ. Hollowell
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
Number of pages206
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-42224-1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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