In his new book, When America Stopped Being Great, veteran reporter and BBC New York and UN correspondent Nick Bryant (U86) reveals how America’s decline paved the way for Donald Trump’s rise, sowing division and leaving the country vulnerable to its greatest challenge of the modern era.

Deftly sifting through almost four decades of American history, from post-Cold War optimism, through the scandal-wracked nineties and into the new millennium, the book unpacks the mistakes of past administrations, from Ronald Reagan’s ‘celebrity presidency’ to Barack Obama’s failure to adequately address income and racial inequality. He explains how the historical clues, unseen by many (including the media) paved the way for an outsider to take power and a country to slide towards disaster. As Bryant writes, ‘rather than being an aberration, Trump’s presidency marked the culmination of so much of what had been going wrong in the United States for decades – economically, racially, politically, culturally, technologically and constitutionally.’

It concludes with some of the most dramatic events in recent memory, in an America torn apart by a bitterly polarised election, racial division, the national catastrophe of the coronavirus and the threat to US democracy evidenced by the storming of Capitol Hill.

Nick Bryant has previously been based in Washington, South Asia and Sydney, and he has filed from all over the world. After reading history at Churchill, he gained a PhD in American politics from Oxford, and is the author of The Bystander: John F Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality, and Confessions from Correspondentland.

In this Zoom webinar, he will be in conversation with Emeritus Professor of International History, long-standing member of the Churchill Archives Committee and last year’s Roskill lecturer, Professor David Reynolds. His history of the United States, America, Empire of Liberty – which accompanied his series on BBC Radio 4 in 2008–9 – will be re-issued in an updated edition by Basic Books in New York on 25 May 2021. This includes a new chapter on the era of Obama and Trump.

This is an online event using the Zoom webinar format, for which you will be sent joining details on the day of the event. Your camera and microphone will be turned off throughout, but you will be able to submit questions for a Q&A afterwards using the Zoom Q&A function.