Secretary of state to Ronald Reagan at the heart of moves to work with Mikhail Gorbachev to end the cold war

Many politicians and diplomats from the 1980s lay claim to a pivotal role in ending the cold war, but the former US secretary of state George Shultz, who has died aged 100, had a better claim than most. And he was not shy in letting people know, as he did at length in his 1,184-page account of his years at the state department, Turmoil and Triumph (1993).

When he became secretary of state in 1982 – a job he was to hold for seven years – relations between the US and the Soviet Union were at a dangerous low. The administration of US president Ronald Reagan was packed with anti-Soviet hardliners. Reagan himself in 1983 dubbed the Soviet Union “the evil empire”.

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