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Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume 1: From Grantham to the Falklands

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Not For Turning is the first volume of Charles Moore's authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era. Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, published after her death on 8 April 2013, immediately supersedes all earlier books written about h Not For Turning is the first volume of Charles Moore's authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era. Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, published after her death on 8 April 2013, immediately supersedes all earlier books written about her. At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which Moore is the first author to draw on. It recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, and takes her up to what was arguably the zenith of her power, victory in the Falklands. (This volume ends with the Falklands Dinner in Downing Street in November 1982.) Moore is clearly an admirer of his subject, but he does not shy away from criticising her or identifying weaknesses and mistakes where he feels it is justified. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues, this is the indispensable, fully rounded portrait of a towering figure of our times.


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Not For Turning is the first volume of Charles Moore's authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era. Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, published after her death on 8 April 2013, immediately supersedes all earlier books written about h Not For Turning is the first volume of Charles Moore's authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era. Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, published after her death on 8 April 2013, immediately supersedes all earlier books written about her. At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which Moore is the first author to draw on. It recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, and takes her up to what was arguably the zenith of her power, victory in the Falklands. (This volume ends with the Falklands Dinner in Downing Street in November 1982.) Moore is clearly an admirer of his subject, but he does not shy away from criticising her or identifying weaknesses and mistakes where he feels it is justified. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues, this is the indispensable, fully rounded portrait of a towering figure of our times.

30 review for Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume 1: From Grantham to the Falklands

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    BOTW Ah but a stab into the 912 pages but objective it is! BOTW Ah but a stab into the 912 pages but objective it is!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andy Carrington

    She took my milk, the cunt.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike Clarke

    The lady's not for turning. We must go on and on.... And she did. Way beyond the scope of this book, a mere lightweight in its 758 pages. Years ago, before we went on a trip, my friend Andrew, knowing I was a librarian, asked me for a reading list for the holidays so he wouldn't feel so left out whilst everyone else was buried in A Suitable Boy. He must have meant several holidays because he usual fare, The Motley Fool Guide to Miser-ness and lists of tennis championships, kept him occupied most The lady's not for turning. We must go on and on.... And she did. Way beyond the scope of this book, a mere lightweight in its 758 pages. Years ago, before we went on a trip, my friend Andrew, knowing I was a librarian, asked me for a reading list for the holidays so he wouldn't feel so left out whilst everyone else was buried in A Suitable Boy. He must have meant several holidays because he usual fare, The Motley Fool Guide to Miser-ness and lists of tennis championships, kept him occupied most of the time. 'I want something you can commend personally and that's going to be fun to read - but not some foot-thick book about Thatcher,' were his only instructions. I duly came up with a list mixing moderately literati fiction with frothy gay fun, and at last check in, 20 years on, he's on about number six. Charles Moore's authorised, and definitely foot-thick, Thatcher biog probably isn't for Andrew but its very size is one of the things about Thatcher - even in death she just won't go quietly. This must be strange to anyone aged under 35 or so. They won't remember first hand just what it was like having her as prime minister. She was just so omnipresent, always on the telly (only four channels), always sticking it to someone - the miners, the Eurocrats, and mostly the 'wets' as she tagged anyone in her own party who disagreed with her. By contrast today's vapid hacks, who resemble Price Waterhouse consultants and vary only in their glottal stops, are grey, bloodless and uninviting. Looking back it's all too easy to see her as a kind of irresistible force. Didn't she have to come because Britain in the 70s was so ghastly? Bear in mind even her predecessor, Jim Callaghan, said at the time that if her were a young man he'd emigrate. Well no, and this is where Moore's book is useful - in reminding us that Thatcher's assumption of the Tory leadership was no such thing, still less was her first general election victory in 1979 assured. Despite trade union-induced chaos, declining world status and the general feeling that the country was sinking slowly into the sea, giggling, Callaghan personally stayed points ahead of her in the polls before and during the campaign. Most people in her own party endured or accepted her reluctantly because they had tired of Ted Heath and losing elections. Many laughed at her for what were perceived as her common, lower middle class origins (she married very well) or were exasperated by her pedantry and lack of humour. There are references to her abundant but boring cooking, and a surprisingly vicious swipe from John Hoskyns, later a key policymaker in her kitchen cabinet, that he initially found her 'limited...with no lateral grasp and very little humour.' It was only victory in the Falklands followed by a landslide in the khaki election that followed it that gave her the unassailable status in her own party that lasted almost a decade. And during this time old Britain was almost wiped off the map, replaced by You-Kay plc, a sort of post-modern daydream built on easy credit, the service sector and feelgood factors. It couldn't of course last and it didn't but it did longer than most people thought possible. History used to be regarded as Whig (Stubbs, Hume) or Tory (Carlyle) depending on who they favoured in the telling. More recently the fashion was for the neutral voice as practised by Thomson or Blake - even though the latter was a practising politician and the giveaway title was The Conservative Party from Peel to Churchill. There was the odd maverick like AJP Taylor who defied convention but was seen as a bit off-colour. Moore does a good job for the most part of controlling his natural partisan urges although occasionally the mask slips: he refers to an irony that people who accuse Thatcher of being uncaring ignore that it was selfish union strikers, denying treatment to the sick and burial to the dead, that really helped her to victory in the first place. well maybe, but wouldn't it also be perfectly free market for workers to demand as much as they can legitimately negotiate in return for their labour, including withholding that labour at times? Moore resists the urge to heroicise Thatcher, although the length of the book is revealing. Like most fanboys he can't quite stop himself from being a completist and the reader is left feeling both over- and underwhelmed. It says much yet concludes little. Did she change Britain for good? Was she inevitable? Or given the circumstances would someone - anyone - have eventually turned up who'd have done much the same or had an equally transformative effect? Moore's not saying - perhaps that is for the second half, for yes, gentle reader, there is Moore to come (sorry). And despite myself, I'm moderately agog....

  4. 5 out of 5

    Simon Koefman

    I was 11 when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979. She was without doubt the most divisive figures in British postwar politics,and I wanted to find out for myself why she attracted such strong feelings. The book covers her childhood, student days and political career up to the Falklands.Volume 2, published next year, covers the rest of her life. The book is (mostly) balanced and objective, and Moore takes care to focus on her failings as well as her triumphs. He also uses a lot of previously I was 11 when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979. She was without doubt the most divisive figures in British postwar politics,and I wanted to find out for myself why she attracted such strong feelings. The book covers her childhood, student days and political career up to the Falklands.Volume 2, published next year, covers the rest of her life. The book is (mostly) balanced and objective, and Moore takes care to focus on her failings as well as her triumphs. He also uses a lot of previously unpublished material. The book reads well, and gives an excellent perspective on Britain in the sixties and seventies-economic problems, industrial strife , and ideological battle in the conservative party between consensus politics and the new monetarism . Has the book taught me anything new about her ? She was a conviction politician with a total self belief, but she used experts when she wasn't sure -ie allowing the armed forces to run the Falkland campaign with minimal political interference. She believed in meritocracy, not equality. Aspirational working class people were attracted to her strong leadership , patriotism and the sale of council houses also attracted a lot of support. The book skates over the devastation caused by high unemployment.1981 was the closest she came to being overthrown with riots and social unrest. She was helped by her enemies-the "Wets " who lacked a leader to moderate her, the new SDP and an ineffectual, divided Labour Party. There's no doubt that the Falklands marked a turning point in her political fortunes-Her enemies within the Government were vanquished, and she did show great leadership. The book hasn't changed my views about the harshness and divisiveness of Thatcherism; but I have learnt a lot about how Thatcher operated, her personality and her appeal. If you want to get behind the myths -read this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    An absolutely essential account for getting beyond the Thatcher caricature to reality.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    You might not agree with her politics (especially in Scotland - she's not too popular here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmmom... ) but this book was incredibly thorough and for me as someone who was 12 years old when she came to power and grew up with her as Prime Minister, pretty fascinating to find out all the background on what happened behind the scenes. The final chapters on the Falklands were especially interesting as they reveal how close it all came to going horribly wrong. I read this You might not agree with her politics (especially in Scotland - she's not too popular here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmmom... ) but this book was incredibly thorough and for me as someone who was 12 years old when she came to power and grew up with her as Prime Minister, pretty fascinating to find out all the background on what happened behind the scenes. The final chapters on the Falklands were especially interesting as they reveal how close it all came to going horribly wrong. I read this because our daughter is doing Thatcherism as a module of her Modern History degree this year (you know you're getting old when events of your own lifetime count as "history") and I wanted a refresher. Looking forward to reading the rest in the series including the third and final instalment which is about to be published any day now.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Fawcett

    I could hardly wait to read this book. It teems with information; packed with detail. Charles Moore spent several years researching this biography, and it shows. This is part one, which takes us up to 1982. It is not a light read; the reader owes it to the writer to attempt to assimilate the information which has so methodically been set down. I read it a few chapters at a time, interspersing my reading with lighter material, such as Les Dawson's 'Well Fared My Lovely.' Finishing reading Charles I could hardly wait to read this book. It teems with information; packed with detail. Charles Moore spent several years researching this biography, and it shows. This is part one, which takes us up to 1982. It is not a light read; the reader owes it to the writer to attempt to assimilate the information which has so methodically been set down. I read it a few chapters at a time, interspersing my reading with lighter material, such as Les Dawson's 'Well Fared My Lovely.' Finishing reading Charles Moore's biography felt like an achievement, an almost miniscule one when compared to the achievements of Margaret Thatcher. Whilst she was without doubt an extraordinary woman, there is a sense of her being in the right place at the right time. She devoted herself almost single-mindedly to her political career, some would say to the detriment of raising her family. Denis emerges as a more guiding presence than previously thought. Having attained the office of Prime Minister, it appears that Margaret Thatcher revelled in the Iron Lady soubriquet, attributed to Leonid Brezhnev, and even to believe that she was infallible. Yet at moments of crisis, she occasionally adopted a crab-like attitude of trying to side-step decision making, whilst showing a face of unbroken determination to the outside world. It is said that you either love or hate Margaret Thatcher. I was an admirer, but now see that you have to be as single-minded as she was, almost to the point of total selfishness, in order to to attain your goals. In the end, she became almost regal, referring herself as 'we.' There is no doubt that Margaret Thatcher had to withstand opposition from within her own cabinet at times; one questions whether this was due to gender bias. Yet she comes across at times as a harridan, at times like a loving mother. A contradiction in many ways. I do not know whether I will have the stamina to read part two, whenever it appears.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carissa

    Absolutely fantastic. I second Michael Barone's review that this is one of the best political biographies ever written. The number of people and documents which Moore consulted make the book absolutely fascinating. It is a sympathetic and admiring, but not hagiographic portrayal of Mrs. Thatcher. It is more interesting than a novel (and I generally prefer novels!) The book sheds light on controversial episodes in Mrs. Thatcher's political career and attempts to present what really happened, rath Absolutely fantastic. I second Michael Barone's review that this is one of the best political biographies ever written. The number of people and documents which Moore consulted make the book absolutely fascinating. It is a sympathetic and admiring, but not hagiographic portrayal of Mrs. Thatcher. It is more interesting than a novel (and I generally prefer novels!) The book sheds light on controversial episodes in Mrs. Thatcher's political career and attempts to present what really happened, rather than how Mrs. Thatcher preferred to present it. These are mainly situations where Mrs. Thatcher felt she had no choice but to compromise her principles, particularly in regard to budget and monetary policy, the IRA hunger strikers, and negotiations over the Falklands. The book is also interesting because of what it reveals about the true Mrs. Thatcher as opposed to the Mrs. Thatcher of myth. I've noticed that contemporary commenters often assume that Mrs. Thatcher had the personality of a man, but simply happened to wear skirts. Not true! The book mentions many times when her behavior was stereotypically female - nervous, edgy, crying over lost soldiers, etc. Yet somehow she still managed to be the greatest Prime Minister since Churchill.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Superbly researched and referenced volume on the early years of Britain's first female prime minister. By far the best book on the subject, and although the author is clearly an admirer he does bring in critical views where appropriate.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Young

    This book is frustrating: it's laudably detailed and researched (given Moore's access to Thatcher and her papers), but it is a) way too long; b) quite stuffy and written in a very flat, lifeless style; c) oddly myopic, in that it fails to provide any external context to the events in Thatcher's life (virtually no mention of Wilson's resignation, the devaluation crises, the deep social unrest of the 1970s in Britain, etc. -- it's written for an audience that already knows UK history well). If you This book is frustrating: it's laudably detailed and researched (given Moore's access to Thatcher and her papers), but it is a) way too long; b) quite stuffy and written in a very flat, lifeless style; c) oddly myopic, in that it fails to provide any external context to the events in Thatcher's life (virtually no mention of Wilson's resignation, the devaluation crises, the deep social unrest of the 1970s in Britain, etc. -- it's written for an audience that already knows UK history well). If you're looking for a concise read on Thatcher written in a compelling, literary style, look elsewhere. This is hyper-detailed, focused look at Thatcher's life -- hundreds of pages elapse before she even gets elected to Parliament (for god's sake, why why why so much focus on her fashion habits and her dating life?!). Also, Moore is a clearly sympathetic to Thatcher -- don't expect any soul-searching here over the social impacts of Thatcherism. That said, the Falklands war (the last 4th or 5th of the book) is great and maybe worth reading apart from the rest of the book. All in all, a missed opportunity.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pasfendis

    Excellent biography. This is the first volume of a three part bio and is densely packed with detail (it clocks in at about 760 pages of text). This volume takes us from childhood, through the rise of Margaret Thatcher’s political career, to the pinnacle of her Prime Ministership, culminating in the victory of the Falkland Islands war in the early 1980s. It is an official bio, so the author had unprecedented access to primary sources, including Margaret Thatcher, herself. It is sympathetic, but n Excellent biography. This is the first volume of a three part bio and is densely packed with detail (it clocks in at about 760 pages of text). This volume takes us from childhood, through the rise of Margaret Thatcher’s political career, to the pinnacle of her Prime Ministership, culminating in the victory of the Falkland Islands war in the early 1980s. It is an official bio, so the author had unprecedented access to primary sources, including Margaret Thatcher, herself. It is sympathetic, but not overly so, and definitely includes the warts. I loved the education this book provided about the workings of the British parliamentary system of government and the detailed treatment of the political issues of the day. More, I loved the character study of Margaret Thatcher- she was defined by an unwavering and sincere devotion to her principles and immense courage. She truly was an Iron Lady. I will definitely be moving on to Vol 2 after a short holiday break.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vasil Kolev

    Very interesting, but so very long and long-winded.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Phillips

    Incredibly in-depth and well-researched while correcting some of the mistakes of previous books. Definitely worth a read if you can manage 750 pages of trying to understand Margaret Thatcher the person.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Williams

    Margaret Thatcher was an amazing political leader. In her own lifetime she was both admired and reviled by many. Even on the occasion of her death the responses could be quite loud. Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands is the first volume in a two volume biography of the Iron Lady by author Charles Moore. Moore spent many years working on this project. Lady Thatcher gave him access to her own material and encouraged others to talk to him. The only stipulation was that the book be pu Margaret Thatcher was an amazing political leader. In her own lifetime she was both admired and reviled by many. Even on the occasion of her death the responses could be quite loud. Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands is the first volume in a two volume biography of the Iron Lady by author Charles Moore. Moore spent many years working on this project. Lady Thatcher gave him access to her own material and encouraged others to talk to him. The only stipulation was that the book be published after her death. Moore is quite thorough in his work. He covers Thatcher’s life in great detail. He also covers her personality. This is not an attempt to canonize the subject. Thatcher is shown to be stubborn, difficult, and at times even a bit abusive of her colleagues. Moore points out her many weaknesses as well as her strengths. The overall image is not flattering, but it does show a very human Thatcher, something that we do not see very often when she is portrayed. Thatcher’s father made a great impression on her early life. He was a storekeeper and a lay Methodist minister. Many of her strongest beliefs were instilled by her father at a early age. This included a strong work ethic and a strong desire to help those in need. For all of her critics claim to the contrary her greatest desire was always to look after the working men and women in England. Whenever she looked at a bill she tended to look at it like a housewife examining an item on the family budget. She disliked inflation because she felt that it wiped out the hard earned savings of industrious workers. She fought hard to sell off government owned housing to the people who lived in the housing. Moore tells us a lot about her early life. Thatcher was always very closed about her personal life, always referring to discuss policy more than her own past. Moore shows that Denis was not the first man that she dated, something that she always claimed. We see that she was often so focused on her own life and career that she at times neglected other members of her family like her sister and her parents. We also see Margaret the snappy dresser. It is sometimes hard to remember that great people that we see in middle age were once teenagers. Thatcher loved to shop for clothes and had a particular passion for hats. From the time she was young she seemed to be destined to break down barrier. In the “old boy” world of education and politics she took second place to no one. Moore recounts the story of a headmaster congratulating the young Margaret on her luck at winning a prize in school. She responded that it wasn’t luck, she had worked hard for the award. Early on in politics she was added to the Shadow Cabinet in a traditional “woman’s position.” She worked through that and soon showed the boys how to run a government. Neither the Labour leadership nor the Conservative leadership ever knew what to do with this upstart middle class woman who didn’t seem to know her place in the system. Readers not familiar with the British system of government (where the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are all elected members of Parliament) it will seem amazing that from the beginning Thatcher had to fight not only with the opposing Labour party, but with members of her own cabinet. Many in her cabinet considered her as nothing more than a fluke and wanted to remove her from power so that they would be able to resume the game of politics as normal. That was not to happen. At least not for a long time. This book is very detailed and has extensive notes and sources. In fact if there is any criticism it would be that it is too detailed. For a person who loves the minutiae of policy making this book would be wonderful. For those looking for a general biography they may find it to be a little cumbersome in the shear amount of detail given. One other observation. Most Americans know very little about the English education system or the English system of government. This book is written by an English author who assumes that everyone understands these topics. Perhaps a glossary or an appendix explaining these systems would have been useful in the American edition. These slight criticisms aside the book is well written and fascinating. If you want to learn about one of the most important and fascinating political figures of the twentieth century then pick up this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    I stopped reading after 200+ pages. Seriously, how many times do you have to read about a new frock that Margaret purchased or wore for an event? When you've got 1100 pages in volume 1, you may dissuade people from reading more with so much focus on completely irrelevant details. Hopefully I'll find a more suitable biography of the Iron Lady.

  16. 4 out of 5

    E

    After reading part 1 of this biography a while ago (Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography, Volume 2: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow), I was greatly looking forward to backtracking and reading volume 1. As the subtitle states, this volume covers Thatcher's years from birth to victory in the Fauklands in 1982. What explains Thatcher's rise to the head of the Conservative Party, and then to 10 Downing Street? I would say it was the courage of her convictions, and the ability After reading part 1 of this biography a while ago (Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography, Volume 2: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow), I was greatly looking forward to backtracking and reading volume 1. As the subtitle states, this volume covers Thatcher's years from birth to victory in the Fauklands in 1982. What explains Thatcher's rise to the head of the Conservative Party, and then to 10 Downing Street? I would say it was the courage of her convictions, and the ability to elucidate them clearly. She wasn't the greatest inner-party politico, nor ground-gamer, but she stated plainly what she believed concerning the free market, the rule of law, the heritage of Britannia, and the need to combat socialism and communism, and voters found that attractive. It didn't hurt that Britain in the 70s was a mess. I'm still amazed at the amount of top-down control the government had, and how it stifled growth and innovation while encouraging inflation and unrest. And the immense power granted to labor unions in government-controlled industries only doubled the problem. I laugh at the PM's cabinet sitting around discussing what the interest rate should be, but that is what they did. Britain was desperate for a breath of free, fresh air, and Thatcher provided it. Once she ascended to the premiership, she encountered a steep learning curve. Her party and even her cabinet was a wide panoply of opinion, often against her. She only slowly shuffled her cabinet to the point where it would provided wind in, not against, her sails. The economy took a long time to recover, and Thatcher's party might not have been returned to power in the next elections if Argentina hadn't foolishly decided to invade the Fauklands. This book tends to get bogged down in economic minutia at times, but it really sparkles when it gets to this conflict, which consumes a good 100 pages of text. Many leaders would have blinked in the face of the invasion (or the terrible diplomacy of Alexander Haig), but not Thatcher. She loved her country and did what it took to defend its interests (okay, that's platitudes, but here they happen to be true). Thus the book ends on a high note, looking forward to Thatcher's successes throughout most of the 80s.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Colin Hoad

    Very few biographies I've read have been as engaging, accessible and as penetrating as this first volume by Charles Moore, detailing Thatcher's life from the beginning through until her Falklands triumph in 1982. The 900 pages flew by, the experience feeling like a grand voyage rather than the 'yomp' that a biography can sometimes be. All credit to Moore for producing such a thorough account, a work that must have taken him years to assemble. And this is just the first volume; I await the second Very few biographies I've read have been as engaging, accessible and as penetrating as this first volume by Charles Moore, detailing Thatcher's life from the beginning through until her Falklands triumph in 1982. The 900 pages flew by, the experience feeling like a grand voyage rather than the 'yomp' that a biography can sometimes be. All credit to Moore for producing such a thorough account, a work that must have taken him years to assemble. And this is just the first volume; I await the second with much anticipation. While Moore is clearly sympathetic and generally loyal to his subject, he nevertheless includes details that do not always portray the Iron Lady in the best of lights. During both her formative years and later political career, there are nuggets from letters, private conversations and papers that are included to ensure that the book does not come off as a lionised account. In equal measure, however, he lays waste to some of the more pernicious myths about her (such as her lack of humanity), perhaps in an effort to demonstrate to those readers who may not be so keen on Mrs T that she was a real person and not the symbolic totem of right wing agency she has regrettably become to many who were born since she left office. Some of the most interesting sections of the book deal with the Heath succession, her relationship with Reagan (and the USA in general), and, naturally, the build-up to and subsequent victory in the Falklands War. Whatever your politics, I think any reader would be hard pressed to come away from this book and not feel at least a little admiration and respect for this truly groundbreaking figure of British political history. Her legacy continues to this day (a subject that Moore intends to address in the second volume) and as such this account of her life and early political years remains indispensable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Archer

    Although this is the authorised biography, and the author is an admirer of his subject, it is far from a simple hagiography. Moore presents the matter researched coherently, then he mainly lets it speak for itself. He also does not hold back from pointing out minor inconsistencies in previous accounts, including in Thatcher’s memoirs. Moore is intelligent and diligent, and never allows his narrative to become boring or repetitive. The extensive acknowledgments, endnotes and bibliography demonstra Although this is the authorised biography, and the author is an admirer of his subject, it is far from a simple hagiography. Moore presents the matter researched coherently, then he mainly lets it speak for itself. He also does not hold back from pointing out minor inconsistencies in previous accounts, including in Thatcher’s memoirs. Moore is intelligent and diligent, and never allows his narrative to become boring or repetitive. The extensive acknowledgments, endnotes and bibliography demonstrate the depth of the research. Turning such a mountain range of material into a well-organised, readable manuscript is a feat, which the author probably had to pursue while keeping in mind one of Thatcher’s favorite prayers from Sir Francis Drake, which encourages persistence. There are very many books available on this subject, but to me this is a much more worthwhile a read than either a straightforward cheerleading account or a hatchet job. It is critical in the best, evaluative, sense of the word. And although it points out the telling fact, it never comes close to lecturing the reader. The organisation of chapters on a thematic basis works well, and provides a good mix, conveying Thatcher’s prodigious work ethic from her schooldays on, and culminating in the momentous battles at home and abroad in the first part of her premiership.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    This is an excellent biography of Margaret Thatcher. Charles Moore writes very well and has provided an entertaining and authoritative account of Mrs Thatcher's early years and the first three years of her premiership, concluding with the Falklands campaign. Moore is sympathetic to Mrs Thatcher but is also properly critical. What comes across very well is her fairly cramped upbringing and her modest political career up to the 1979 election when she became prime minister. Mrs Thatcher was not a pa This is an excellent biography of Margaret Thatcher. Charles Moore writes very well and has provided an entertaining and authoritative account of Mrs Thatcher's early years and the first three years of her premiership, concluding with the Falklands campaign. Moore is sympathetic to Mrs Thatcher but is also properly critical. What comes across very well is her fairly cramped upbringing and her modest political career up to the 1979 election when she became prime minister. Mrs Thatcher was not a particularly impressive politician up to then, and I recall how diminished she seemed to be as leader of the opposition in the late 70s. Moore describes this period accurately. What then happened was a great transformation. The great value of this book is the detail and balance which is given to those early years of the premiership. Stress is given to the doubts and inconsistencies that often characterised her actions. Even in the Falklands, Mrs Thatcher showed some indecision over the response to various peace initiatives. But overriding all was her strength of purpose and this is well expressed. This is a good and balanced account and it justifies the accolades that it has received as one of the best political biographies. I look forward to reading the later volumes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    A former Telegraph editor authoring a three volume biography of Margaret Thatcher sounds like a recipe for hagiography, and so I didn’t consider reading this until the third volume came out earlier this year and got universally excellent reviews. Based on the first volume, these are more than justified. Moore’s felling of Thatcher’s life up until she becomes Conservative leader are actually the highlight - he forensically looks at how her time in Grantham, Oxford and as a PPC shapes her life, an A former Telegraph editor authoring a three volume biography of Margaret Thatcher sounds like a recipe for hagiography, and so I didn’t consider reading this until the third volume came out earlier this year and got universally excellent reviews. Based on the first volume, these are more than justified. Moore’s felling of Thatcher’s life up until she becomes Conservative leader are actually the highlight - he forensically looks at how her time in Grantham, Oxford and as a PPC shapes her life, and quietly deconstructs some myths about how thoroughly she was shaped by admiration for her ‘shopkeeper father’: The book is at its slowest when charting domestic policy in the early years of her Premiership (which feels like something of a metaphor...) but the final chapters on the Falklands are simply excellent. I’ve never previously read anything about the history of the conflict and so hadn’t engaged with the sheer level of the political risks involved and the challenges of navigating relationships with the US and other European countries. Moore does a really good job of capturing just how fragile Thatcher’s position was at that point and - in a theme of the book - how isolated she was within her Cabinet.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    I think it is interesting that Margaret Thatcher and the Author, Charles Moore, had an agreement that she was not permitted to read the manuscript and that the book could not appear during her lifetime, in order to reassure the reader that she had not been able to exert any control over what was said. (page xiii in the preface). Of note: In terms of National Health Service, Beveridge wrote: 'The insured person should not feel that income from idleness,however caused, can come from a bottomless p I think it is interesting that Margaret Thatcher and the Author, Charles Moore, had an agreement that she was not permitted to read the manuscript and that the book could not appear during her lifetime, in order to reassure the reader that she had not been able to exert any control over what was said. (page xiii in the preface). Of note: In terms of National Health Service, Beveridge wrote: 'The insured person should not feel that income from idleness,however caused, can come from a bottomless purse.' Therefore, when someone did have to be given National Assistance, the 'provision of an income should be associated with treatment designed to bring the interruption of earnings to an end as soon as possible.' (page 164). This made me reflect on our current state of affairs in this county where we have generation after generation after generation living off the government dole. This book probably deserves 5 stars. It's extremely well written and researched. It's just that I couldn't get into it - it pretty much records every single thing about MT's life, which after a while read more like an encyclopedia, so I ended up skimming/skipping a lot of it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jake Goretzki

    Superb and nuanced... and often very gripping. Only really gets rather dull in the final Falklands chapters, so generally it's pacy and entertaining - albeit very long. Captures her tone very well - the Kipling meets Methodist Bible talk . The obsession with clothes is pretty fascinating. Her thing with these much older, establishment men is amusingly awful. It's breaks through the caricature though: she was less imperious and controlling than we're lead to believe; a lot of the callousness seem Superb and nuanced... and often very gripping. Only really gets rather dull in the final Falklands chapters, so generally it's pacy and entertaining - albeit very long. Captures her tone very well - the Kipling meets Methodist Bible talk . The obsession with clothes is pretty fascinating. Her thing with these much older, establishment men is amusingly awful. It's breaks through the caricature though: she was less imperious and controlling than we're lead to believe; a lot of the callousness seems to be leftie mythology ('There's no such thing as society' is a total out of context quote; 'Gotcha' was about hitting a submarine, not sinking it). Stuff like that. On many issues, I'd probably have been a hardcore Thatcherite if I'd been old enough to understand: Cold War, Scargill, secondary picketing, dreary semi-Soviet economic management; 'beer and sandwiches at Number 10', etc. Still, there are enough pointers that would make anyone run a mile. And Denis consistently comes across as a twat.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julian Douglass

    A good and (VERY) detailed biography that could have saved about 100-150 pages if the author, Charles Moore didn't talk about every detail of Lady Thatcher, down to her clothes and house life. This was an interesting portrait of her, clearly very pro-Thatcher, but that's what you get when it is an authorized biography. Mr. Moore feels free to criticize her and offer his critiques with the wonders of hindsight, but still sticks to a very pro Thatcher line. Other than that, the bio seems to pick u A good and (VERY) detailed biography that could have saved about 100-150 pages if the author, Charles Moore didn't talk about every detail of Lady Thatcher, down to her clothes and house life. This was an interesting portrait of her, clearly very pro-Thatcher, but that's what you get when it is an authorized biography. Mr. Moore feels free to criticize her and offer his critiques with the wonders of hindsight, but still sticks to a very pro Thatcher line. Other than that, the bio seems to pick up a bit when she does become Prime Minister in 1979 and shows how divisive and uncompromising she was. He introduces a lot of characters in this first edition, and some of them I feel didn't need a footnote biography for them. Other issues that I feel were present in this book was his lack of clarity of British Politics to the Non-British readers, and the fact that he spelled out her daily life as if he was reading her diary and putting it in this book. Hopefully, Volume 2 is better.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Philipp Hartmann

    Moore's monumental first volume of Britain's longest-serving Prime Minister offers an amazing insight into the Iron Lady's life - from early childhood until the victory in the Falklands War. The level of in-depth-analysis is mind-boggling. It is partially hard to read, because of the myriad of names and the minute depiction of events, which seem like another epoch in some sense. Nevertheless, I consider this book as a tremendous opus which offers you the opportunity to delve into Margaret Thatch Moore's monumental first volume of Britain's longest-serving Prime Minister offers an amazing insight into the Iron Lady's life - from early childhood until the victory in the Falklands War. The level of in-depth-analysis is mind-boggling. It is partially hard to read, because of the myriad of names and the minute depiction of events, which seem like another epoch in some sense. Nevertheless, I consider this book as a tremendous opus which offers you the opportunity to delve into Margaret Thatcher's life and live through the moments that marked her as one of the great personalities of British history.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Allen George

    A compelling account of the rise of Margaret Thatcher, Moore gets as close to the human legacy as one can get. This is neither a glowing acceptance of Thatcherism, nor is it highly critical of her rise and early tenure. It presents a balanced and very humanistic view of a courageous and flawed leader - only the greatest are. The downside is that this book ends with the Falklands War and the second volume is not due out for several years. This creates problems with memory. Would have preferred to A compelling account of the rise of Margaret Thatcher, Moore gets as close to the human legacy as one can get. This is neither a glowing acceptance of Thatcherism, nor is it highly critical of her rise and early tenure. It presents a balanced and very humanistic view of a courageous and flawed leader - only the greatest are. The downside is that this book ends with the Falklands War and the second volume is not due out for several years. This creates problems with memory. Would have preferred to seen a two volume set, or one large volume released.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sean Watson

    Absolutely stunning feat of research and writing. Extraordinary book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    BrianC75

    A longgggg book! It is very difficult for an author to write a book like this and at the same time engage and hold his reader throughout. Political machinations and power struggles do not make the most exciting of written material. Charles Moore pulls it off. I found this well written book really interesting (probably helped by being in my Twenties during the period covered. I remember 'The Winter Of Discontent' and the Falklands War vividly. Occurrences like that do intend to make a lasting impr A longgggg book! It is very difficult for an author to write a book like this and at the same time engage and hold his reader throughout. Political machinations and power struggles do not make the most exciting of written material. Charles Moore pulls it off. I found this well written book really interesting (probably helped by being in my Twenties during the period covered. I remember 'The Winter Of Discontent' and the Falklands War vividly. Occurrences like that do intend to make a lasting impression.). The book neither fawns or overly criticises and presents a thoroughly researched and balanced view of the subject and her life. The chapter on The Falklands is really powerful and reads like a thriller. Like or loath her politics, one has to admire her as a human being and the personal qualities and drive which allowed her to achieve the things she did. I look forward to Volume 2 - not however to it's great length and weight.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace Hoffmann

    I am 51 so was a young person while Thatcher was PM. My relatives all loved her, but when I studied in the UK as a young adult, she was pretty unpopular among academics. It is wonderful to read this comprehensive account of her life (vol 1). Moore writes so well -- wonderful verbs. He is sympathetic but not uncritical. He has clearly spent so much time with her (figuratively) that he understands her inside and out. I will definitely read the next two volumes. I have read the Caro series on LBJ a I am 51 so was a young person while Thatcher was PM. My relatives all loved her, but when I studied in the UK as a young adult, she was pretty unpopular among academics. It is wonderful to read this comprehensive account of her life (vol 1). Moore writes so well -- wonderful verbs. He is sympathetic but not uncritical. He has clearly spent so much time with her (figuratively) that he understands her inside and out. I will definitely read the next two volumes. I have read the Caro series on LBJ and would say this is comparable. Magisterial and comprehensive biography, beautifully written and organized. As good as it gets.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I wanted to like this book but I was also looking for something more like Margaret Thatcher for Dummies and that is definitely not this book. The book was meticulous in details and had the potential to tell a story about one of the most influential and important people of the 20th century, but it never really got there. In fact, at times you could even forget who this book was about, it was focused so much on policies, minutes and other people that Thatcher was just another character in the stor I wanted to like this book but I was also looking for something more like Margaret Thatcher for Dummies and that is definitely not this book. The book was meticulous in details and had the potential to tell a story about one of the most influential and important people of the 20th century, but it never really got there. In fact, at times you could even forget who this book was about, it was focused so much on policies, minutes and other people that Thatcher was just another character in the story and not the driving force.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anne Brooke

    An excellent biography of a woman who is a particular heroine of mine. It was interesting to read about the more personal side of Maggie's life and even more gripping when it came to the recent history which I well remember. The sections about the Falklands War are very good indeed, and I loved the ending of this first volume. I am very much looking forward to the second volume. This was also an incredibly well researched book, with some marvellous detail and wit.

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