Easy Chair — From the July 2013 issue

Trio Grande

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The lady who changed the world,” was how The Economist described Margaret Thatcher in its obituary. Whether or not we believe that individuals ever wield such power over history, it is certainly true that the world changed during Thatcher’s premiership — and that it seemed to be moving in her direction.

Thatcher wasn’t the only empire builder to die in April. So did Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, and Howard Phillips, one of the principal architects of what came to be called the New Right. And when all three departed in quick succession, it struck me that they shared a certain sensibility. Each would have made an excellent case study for the Great Man (or Great Woman) theory of history, defying the world and recasting it through heroic labors. And each went about this task in roughly the same way. They were populists who bitterly denounced elites; they were worshippers at the shrine of free enterprise; and they all reached their zenith in the early 1980s.

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