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  • Academic staff

  • Dr James Cooper

    Senior Lecturer in History

    School of History, Philosophy and Culture

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


    Phone number: +44 (0)1865 483703

    Email: jamescooper@brookes.ac.uk


    Dr James Cooper is a Fulbright Scholar and a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society and the Higher Education Academy.  He completed his PhD at Aberystwyth University in 2010 and then became Lecturer in Modern History at the same institution.  In August 2012 Dr Cooper was appointed Senior Lecturer in History at Oxford Brookes University before spending the 2012-13 academic year as the Fulbright-Robertson Visiting Professor of British History at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, USA.  In May 2016, Dr Cooper was a Visiting Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute.    

    Dr Cooper's first monograph, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: A Very Political Special Relationship (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012), is the first major examination of the Reagan-Thatcher relationship with regards to domestic policy.  It has been well received in academic journals.  The English Historical Review (2014) describes is at 'an engaging and informed analysis ... with many new insights'.  Similarly, the American Historical Review (2014) notes that the monograph's 'analysis is well-developed and persuasive' and 'provides an original and interesting contribution to the literature of the Anglo-American relationship'.  A review in the Journal of Contemporary History (2014) states that the monograph's importance and impact is 'considerable'.  Dr Cooper's expertise is increasingly recognised beyond the academy.  For instance, Dr Cooper was interviewed live on the BBC news channel about the Reagan-Thatcher relationship following the release of an audio recording of their conversation about the American intervention in Grenada in 1983 (10 November 2014).    

    Dr Cooper in primarily interested in contemporary American history within a global context.  He is a co-founder and director of the International History and Grand Strategy Research Group in the Department.  One of the principle activities of the research group is the organisation of special events for students and the general public.  Events have included a public lecture by Lord Powell of Bayswater (18 March 2014), Professor Sir David Omand (17 October 2014), Dr Luke Nichter of Texas A&M (23 February 2015), and Sean Donlon, former Irish ambassador to the United States (November 2015).  The group is also responsible for hosting the annual 'Congress to Campus' event, whereby former members of the U.S. Congress interact with students and the wider community (6 March 2015; 4 March 2016).


    • U67866 Reagan and His Legacy (3rd year) [Advanced Study in the History of America] 
    • U67823 The Making of the American Giant, 1861 – 1945 (2nd year)
    • U67920 History and Documents (2nd year)
    • U67511 Superpowers: An International History of the Cold War (1st year)
    • U67503 Rise of the Modern World (1st year)
    • U67900 Making History (1st year)


    • P67503 American Colossus: U.S. Domestic and Foreign Politics, 1945 - 2012 

    PhD supervision

    • Emily Stacey (jointly supervised with Professor Glen O'Hara): 'Preparing for Power: Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Visits as Leader of the Opposition' (completion expected 2019/20).
    • Sarah Slator (jointly supervised with Dr Tom Crook): 'Politics in the Court Room:  International Communism, the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Rivonia Trial in South Africa, 1963-64' (completion expected 2019/20).

    Dr Cooper is keen to receive undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation proposals on modern and contemporary American and British political history, broadly defined.

    Dr Cooper’s first major research project focused on the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.  In addition to the articles that came of this research, the project led to a monograph.  It explored the Reagan-Thatcher relationship in a transnational context, with specific reference to domestic policy, testing the strengths and weaknesses of their political bonds.  Over thirty interviews with key protagonists and the most recently available documentary material in British and American archives were used.  While a connection between Thatcherite and Reaganite domestic policy is often assumed by commentators, this study revealed the complexity of the Reagan-Thatcher relationship.  Although Reagan and Thatcher are commonly viewed in the same ‘New Right’ context, it was the rhetoric rather than reality of their policies that was used to offer a crucial mutual validation as they sought to “roll back the state”.   

    He is currently developing two projects which will lead to further research outcomes.  The first focuses on the response of US presidents to the Northern Ireland conflict during the ‘Troubles’.  It will contribute to the relatively marginalised historiography of the American dimension of the Anglo-Irish process.  The second is an examination of Anglo-American summitry in the Reagan-Thatcher era.


    • Cooper, J., The Politics of Diplomacy: U.S. Presidents and the Northern Ireland Conflict, 1967-98, Edinburgh University Press (2017)
      ISBN: 9781474402118
    • Cooper J, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: a very political special relationship, Palgrave Macmillan (2012)
      ISBN: 9780230304055

    Journal articles

    • Cooper J, '“The situation over there really bothers me”: Ronald Reagan and the Northern Ireland conflict'
      Irish Historical Studies (2017)
      ISSN: 0021-1214 eISSN: 0021-1214
    • Cooper J, 'From Reykjavik to Fulton: Reagan, Thatcher, and the ending of the Cold War'
      Journal of Transatlantic Studies 14 (4) (2016) pp.383-400
      ISSN: 1479-4012 eISSN: 1479-4012
      Abstract Website
    • Cooper J, '“A log-rolling, Irish-American politician, out to raise votes in the United States”: Tip O’Neill and the Irish dimension of Anglo-American relations, 1977-1985'
      Congress and the Presidency: A Journal of Capital Studies 42 (1) (2015) pp.1-27
      ISSN: 0734-3469 eISSN: 0734-3469
      Abstract Website
    • Cooper J, '“Two’s company, three’s a crowd: Neil Kinnock, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher, 1984-1987”'
      White House Studies 13 (1) (2015) pp.1-20
      ISSN: 1535-4738 eISSN: 1535-4738
      Abstract Website
    • Cooper J, '‘I must brief you on the mistakes’: When Ronald Reagan met Margaret Thatcher, 25-28 February 1981'
      Journal of Policy History 26 (2) (2014) pp.274-297
      ISSN: 0898-0306 eISSN: 0898-0306
      Abstract Website
    • Cooper J, 'Superior to anything I had seen in the States': the 'Thatcherisation' of Republican strategy in 1980 and 1984'
      Journal of Transatlantic Studies 11 (1) (2013) pp.1-21
      ISSN: 1479-4012 eISSN: 1479-4012
      Abstract Website
    • Cooper J, 'The foreign politics of opposition: Margaret Thatcher and the transatlantic relationship before power'
      Contemporary British History 24 (1) (2010) pp.23-42
      ISSN: 1361-9462 eISSN: 1361-9462
      Abstract Website

    Book chapters

    Membership of professional bodies

    • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
    • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 
    • Member of the Organisation of American Historians



    Indicative conference papers and other presentations:

    • 'The Politics of Peacemaking: U.S. Presidents and the Northern Ireland Conflict, 1964-98.' (Nobel Spring Lectures: The Causes of Peace, Norwegian Nobel Institute, 4 May 2016.)
    • 'For better and for worse: The relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.' (The Enduring Legacy: Leadership and National Security Affairs during the Ronald Reagan era, Virginia Military Institute, USA, November 2014.)
    • ‘“A Log-Rolling, Irish-American Politician, Out to Raise Votes in the United States”: Tip O’Neill and the Irish Dimension of Anglo-American Relations, 1977-1985.’ (Transatlantic Studies Association, July 2013).  
    • ‘“I must brief you on the mistakes”: When Ronald Reagan met Margaret Thatcher, 25-28 February 1981.’  (Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA, April 2013).
    • ‘Two’s company, three’s a crowd:  Neil Kinnock, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher’. (Centre for American Political Studies, Harvard University, December 2012).
    • ‘Transatlantic policy transfer in the Reagan-Thatcher Years, 1981-89.’ (The Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C., November 2012).
    • ‘The Reagan and Thatcher Years.’ (St. Louis English Speaking Union, invited to present, November 2012)
    • ‘“Reaganomics will lead to Thatcheritis”: Policy transfer between the Reagan and Thatcher administrations.’ (Midwest Conference on British Studies, October 2012, Toronto.)
    • ‘The Reagan and Thatcher Years.’ (Annual Fulbright-Robertson public lecture, Westminster College, MO, October 2012, over 100 people attended.)
    • ‘Greed is good: A transnational approach to understanding Reaganomics and Thatcherism.’  (Western Conference on British Studies, September 2012, Las Vegas.)
    • ‘Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Very Political Special Relationship.’ (The Transatlantic Studies Association Conference, July 2011, Dundee University).

    Public engagement

    Further information

    Dr Cooper can be followed on Twitter: @Dr_JamesTCooper