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Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume 2: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow

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Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential figures of the postwar era. Volume Two of Moore's acclaimed authorized biography covers the central, triumphal years of her premiership, from the Falklands to the 1987 election. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews w Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential figures of the postwar era. Volume Two of Moore's acclaimed authorized biography covers the central, triumphal years of her premiership, from the Falklands to the 1987 election. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues, this is the indispensable portrait of a towering figure of our times.


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Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential figures of the postwar era. Volume Two of Moore's acclaimed authorized biography covers the central, triumphal years of her premiership, from the Falklands to the 1987 election. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews w Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential figures of the postwar era. Volume Two of Moore's acclaimed authorized biography covers the central, triumphal years of her premiership, from the Falklands to the 1987 election. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues, this is the indispensable portrait of a towering figure of our times.

30 review for Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume 2: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Always find it interesting to read history that I have lived through and remember as it presents it from a different perspective. At this time, Maggie Thatcher seemed all powerful and there forever but you can see the cracks starting to appear especially with her marginalising of poor Geoffrey Howe who never got to do his dream job of Foreign Secretary properly. It is striking how much stronger Britain’s role in the world was then compared to now when she had such influence over both Reagan and Always find it interesting to read history that I have lived through and remember as it presents it from a different perspective. At this time, Maggie Thatcher seemed all powerful and there forever but you can see the cracks starting to appear especially with her marginalising of poor Geoffrey Howe who never got to do his dream job of Foreign Secretary properly. It is striking how much stronger Britain’s role in the world was then compared to now when she had such influence over both Reagan and Gorbachev. Looking forward to reading the third and final volume about all the intrigue that surrounded her ultimate demise.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mike Clarke

    Wham bam! Well, Charles Moore did subtitle this second volume of Thatcherography after a George Michael composition, and although on p638, he displays some impressive research skills in the pop culture of the times (even diehard punks may struggle to remember The Exploited’s ditty Maggie - sample lyric “Maggie, Maggie, you cunt / Maggie, Maggie, Maggie you fucking cunt”) it’s one of the few laughs in this otherwise very serious work. Yes, Andrew, it’s another foot thick book about Thatcher. Jour Wham bam! Well, Charles Moore did subtitle this second volume of Thatcherography after a George Michael composition, and although on p638, he displays some impressive research skills in the pop culture of the times (even diehard punks may struggle to remember The Exploited’s ditty Maggie - sample lyric “Maggie, Maggie, you cunt / Maggie, Maggie, Maggie you fucking cunt”) it’s one of the few laughs in this otherwise very serious work. Yes, Andrew, it’s another foot thick book about Thatcher. Journalist, commentator and lifelong worshipper at the shrine of the Blessed Margaret, Moore knows how to put a strong narrative together that holds the reader’s interest over 700 or so pages. Key events in the second term of the presidency, sorry premiership, are organised into themed chapters and Moore allows himself at least a little more fun with the chapter headings. One, entitled ‘Glasnost in the Chilterns’ is subheaded ‘For heaven’s sake, someone find me a young Russian’, and who among us hasn’t shrieked that at least once in a lifetime? The problem really with this authorised biography is not that it’s badly written (it isn’t - for the most part it’s crisp, well-organised and informative), nor that it’s lacking in detail or insight (it provides plenty of both as the wealth of sources, eyewitness accounts and commentary demonstrate); it’s that it’s fan fiction, the story told from the point of view of a devout believer. That he also happens to be a journo compounds this for whilst it’s a story well told, there is little deconstruction or criticism - and what there is is so muted (see for instance the meltdown during the 1987 election campaign in the final chapter) as to almost be humblebrag. At various points - on her approach to unemployment, the poll tax (the Scots were apparently begging for it), her divisions with Reagan on nuclear weapons (she didn’t say “every home should have one!” but I almost wish she had), and her treatment of her cabinet ministers, Moore takes us to the top of the hill and leads us back down. He observes but does not criticise, comments but fails to analyse. Taken on the level of readability, digestibility and enjoyment, it’s a good book. As a historical document, it works. But if you want analysis, you might do worse than Hugo Young’s One Of Us, ancient scrolls though it may be. Skip this and you’ll miss what she thought of SPADs and what she bought Denis in the duty free, which would be a shame though. Everything she wants, but only some of mine.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Philipp Hartmann

    In two or three years time, you will have completed the most sweeping change this country has seen in decades and your place in history will be rivalled in this century only by Churchill. Thus writes Charles Powell, Thatcher's private secretary after her third election victory in June 1987, a feat which, to this day, no other British Prime Minister has accomplished. The second volume of Margaret Thatcher's biography covers the period of 1982 - right after her triumphant defeat of the Argentine In two or three years time, you will have completed the most sweeping change this country has seen in decades and your place in history will be rivalled in this century only by Churchill. Thus writes Charles Powell, Thatcher's private secretary after her third election victory in June 1987, a feat which, to this day, no other British Prime Minister has accomplished. The second volume of Margaret Thatcher's biography covers the period of 1982 - right after her triumphant defeat of the Argentine invasion of the British overseas territory of the Falklands - to June 1987, when she won her third term as PM. Charles Moore opted for a topic-oriented structure to this volume, more so than in the first one. Therefore, the reader may encounter quite some overlaps while reading; however, at least in my humble opinion, this makes the book more compelling, as one is not overwhelmed by the various concomitant events in the PM's life. The sheer level of detail is simply staggering; in a way, one can really feel as if projected into the atmosphere of the events depicted in this book. Against the backdrop of the then ever-present, latent threat of the Soviet Union, I found the section about Thatcher's dealing with the Soviet Union and its leader, Michail Gorbachev, particularly captivating. So were the descriptions of her encounters with then US president Ronald Reagan, both decisive in bringing the Cold War to an end. In this volume, however, the author manages to convey points of friction between the two, namely when it came to nuclear disarmament. Whereas Reagan held the belief, perhaps naive, that a world free of nuclear weapons was feasable, Mrs Thatcher was an intransigent supporter of nuclear deterrence. Other topics include Mrs Thatcher's dealings with the European Community, resulting in the British rebate at Fontainebleau in 1984, her stance on Middle East matters and the Gaddafi regime in Libya and the fallout with her then defense minister Michael Heseltine, which would eventually contribute to her fall. The Brighton bomb in 1984 is also described in detail, embedded in the larger context of Anglo-Irish relations. Although not particularly interested or versed in matters concerning Ireland, she managed to carry things forward quite substantially, resulting in the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, regarded as a cornerstone in the process of pacification of Ireland (and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1997). Another large section is dedicated to the struggle with the unions, which at the time held the British population hostage. With great perspicacy and determination, she succeeded in bringing down the National Union of Minors (NMU), headed by Thatcher's arch-enemy at the time, Arthur Scargill. Even though quite a lengthy piece of work, I enjoyed the read very much. I particularly admire the author's capacity to reconstruct Mrs Thatcher's thoughts and states of mind during the unfolding events by drawing on multiple accounts and sources. All in all an amazing read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Acclaimed Profile of the Woman who Transformed the British Political Landscape “Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith” is the second volume of what is a planned three-volume biography by Charles Moore, who has devoted more than 20 years, so far, to this major project. This volume covers Thatcher’s commanding win in the 1983 general election, following her political popularity in the aftermath of the Falklands War, through to her unprecedented re-election for a third time in June 1987. Moore has receive Acclaimed Profile of the Woman who Transformed the British Political Landscape “Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith” is the second volume of what is a planned three-volume biography by Charles Moore, who has devoted more than 20 years, so far, to this major project. This volume covers Thatcher’s commanding win in the 1983 general election, following her political popularity in the aftermath of the Falklands War, through to her unprecedented re-election for a third time in June 1987. Moore has received critical acclaim for weaving history, politics, psychology and sociology together in this biography of Margaret Thatcher. It is an “authorized biography” in the sense that Thatcher granted a number of interviews to the author, encouraged others to talk to him, and made available her private papers. But she never reviewed the book’s manuscript and stipulated that the biography was to be published only after her death. Britain’s economy was moribund and uncompetitive when Thatcher became prime minister, struggling under years of post-war socialist policies. Income tax rates were prohibitively high at 83% for the highest income levels (thus lyrics of the Beetles’ song, Tax Man — “there’s one for you, 19 for me” — was only a slight exaggeration). Unions had enormous power and engaged in crippling strikes. Many ambitious and highly educated British people emigrated, seeking better opportunity abroad. This second volume of Moore’s biography builds upon the first volume, which chronicled Thatcher’s rise to be Prime Minister and her first four years holding office. We now have a description of the additional steps taken from mid-1982 to mid-1987 to achieve a remarkable transformation of the British economy. Unions had a stranglehold on many industries, especially coal which powered Britain’s electric utilities. The Heath government had been brought down by Arthur Scargill of the miner’s union when a strike led to widespread blackouts and shutdown of British industry. Thatcher prepared for a showdown with Scargill, in large part by stockpiling coal so as to outlast the union. She prevailed and thus broke the back of a powerful opponent. She moved quickly to privatize numerous inefficient nationalized or subsidized industries such as vehicle manufacturer British Leyland, as well as British Airways, British Gas, Rolls-Royce, and British Telecom. Moore is an admirer of Thatcher, but recognizes her weaknesses as well as her strengths. She exemplified the leader who is “often right, never in doubt”. Not only did she dominate meetings with her cabinet and advisors, but she also frequently did most of the talking when she met with world leaders such as Reagan, Gorbachev, Kohl and Mitterrand. In such settings she could be both remarkably inspiring and infuriating. With regard to her cabinet and advisors, according to one observer, “She never saw herself as the captain of the team, but as the coachman flogging the horses”. As memos crossed her desk, Thatcher would underline items with which she agreed, and put a wiggly line under those proposals with which she disagreed. Moore is able to use that annotation to great effect to explain what excited or annoyed her as she addressed specific problems and policy issues. Moore provides a fascinating analysis of Thatcher’s relationship with Reagan. There is evidence that she didn’t really respect the President and didn’t think he was all that bright. But they shared broad philosophical and political goals. Britain was the junior partner in the alliance and Thatcher was careful to avoid anger or rudeness in talking to the President, a constraint that she rarely felt she needed to employ when dealing with others. She went out of her way to flatter and charm the President in order to bend him to her will. In turn, Reagan’s aides learned that the best way to persuade their boss of a proposal was to say that, “Margaret thinks it is a good idea.” Thatcher had the perspicacity to identify Gorbachev as the likely “new generation” leader to succeed an aging Soviet leadership, and she met with him before he became President of the Soviet Union. She shaped the American administration’s view of Gorbachev, urging constructive dialogue to promote reform in the USSR, but soon was pushed aside as Reagan and Gorbachev met directly as the world’s two superpowers. The Prime Minister’s husband, Denis Thatcher, was portrayed in the satirical press at the time as a gin-soaked, half-witted layabout, whose sole activity was to try to escape the wrath of "the Boss”. In fact, Moore points out that Denis had been a successful businessman and investor, continued to serve on a number of corporate boards, and was able to provide discreet but useful advice, particularly in the financial sector. Denis, suggests Moore, may have encouraged the portrayal of himself as a harmlessly incompetent buffoon, in order to deflect any claims that he was manipulating government from "behind the throne”. During the five years covered by this volume, Thatcher had to deal with an extraordinary number of major issues, including restructuring the tax system, scandal involving a British helicopter company, negotiating with the Chinese over Hong Kong, resisting calls by Kohl and Mitterrand for concessions to European Community bureaucrats, and struggling with the issue of Ireland (even as five were killed and Thatcher narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when the IRA planted a bomb at her hotel at the time of the Conservative Party Congress in Brighton). For the American reader, some of these descriptions, such as the helicopter scandal, may be too detailed. A huge cast of British politicians are introduced, and the footnotes explaining their education and peerages seem relevant only for British readers. But overall, Moore’s brilliant narration of the drama and controversy of the Thatcher years, and her polarizing force in British politics, makes this book a delight to read. She was not beloved by the intelligentsia and was very hurt by the decision of her alma mater, Oxford, to first offer and then not to grant her an honorary degree as a result of a protest campaign. Consequently, she left her papers to Cambridge. Reflecting language which the British seem uniquely able to pen, Moore quotes one intellectual as describing Thatcher’s England as “A squalid, intolerant, racist, homophobic, narrow-minded, authoritarian rat-hole run by vicious, suburban-minded materialistic philistines.” A fellow member of the Conservative Party, frustrated by her unwillingness to listen to opponents during a policy debate, said, “I don’t approve of her as Prime Minister, but by God she’s a great tank commander.” She was also widely admired. Perhaps the most trenchant tribute to her legacy is that, in Moore’s words, Margaret Thatcher became “the patron saint of taxi drivers and all those who sought to better themselves.” In that way, she changed the British political landscape and helped ensure that in recent decades Britain has had one of the strongest economies in Europe.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week In the aftermath of the Falklands victory, Margaret Thatcher's stock was rising. This period of almost five years, up to the 1987 election, could be described as her golden years. With a decisive majority and a pre-eminent place on the world stage she could truly begin to make her mark. Charles Moore was authorised by Margaret Thatcher to write her biography on the condition that it was published after her death. She also encouraged her former staff and colleagu From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week In the aftermath of the Falklands victory, Margaret Thatcher's stock was rising. This period of almost five years, up to the 1987 election, could be described as her golden years. With a decisive majority and a pre-eminent place on the world stage she could truly begin to make her mark. Charles Moore was authorised by Margaret Thatcher to write her biography on the condition that it was published after her death. She also encouraged her former staff and colleagues to readily offer their recollections, diaries and memoirs of their time working with and for her. This abridgement for Radio 4 of his second volume offers a series of windows onto the key events of her second term - a term that was packed with challenges and drama. Episode 1: Margaret Thatcher tackles the problem of Hong Kong. Episode 2: A momentous lunch at Chequers turns into a meeting with 'a man we can do business with'. Episode 3: Arthur Scargill vs Margaret Thatcher. Episode 4: The Iron Lady and the Queen. Episode 5: What was she really like? Music : The music used to frame this series reflects the title of the book. As the author writes, "I have called this book Everything She Wants - the title of a song of the time by Wham! - because it expresses Mrs Thatcher's appetite for achievement and change and the degree to which she was the commanding personality of the era; but, hard as she fought for everything she wanted, this was not always what she got." Track: 'Everything She Wants' from the Wham! album Make it Big, 1984 Read by Nicholas Farrell Abridged and produced by Jill Waters A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06fkd1l

  6. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    Brilliant, I found the first volume in the trilogy heavy going but the second volume demonstrates Moore's skill in balancing both the genius and the hubris of Mrs Thatcher at the apogee of her power. Fascinating insights into the complexity of her relationship with Ronald Reagan, her central role in Gorbachev's emergence as an agent for change in the moribund Soviet empire and the vast network of influence she built with a range of world leaders based on her extraordinary personality and charism Brilliant, I found the first volume in the trilogy heavy going but the second volume demonstrates Moore's skill in balancing both the genius and the hubris of Mrs Thatcher at the apogee of her power. Fascinating insights into the complexity of her relationship with Ronald Reagan, her central role in Gorbachev's emergence as an agent for change in the moribund Soviet empire and the vast network of influence she built with a range of world leaders based on her extraordinary personality and charisma. South African president P.W. Botha's intransigence despite her considerable effort to encourage him towards genuine dialogue and reform are also well documented. The visceral hatred that she evinced from Britain's cultural and academic elites is explored in detail, her characterisation as a 'philistine' with 'suburban' instincts and the special role the BBC played in her demonisation in the literature and the arts all make fascinating reading. The relevance of this to the current disconnect between the same elites in British society and popular opinion was striking. Then as now, a contempt for the views of 'ordinary' people, led the finest minds in contemporary society to repeatedly get it wrong in polls and surveys of popular opinion. Moore's exploration of the deep seated resentment within the establishment of Thatcher's leadership as a woman as well as their thinly veiled anti-semitism directed at the Jewish component of her government makes very interesting reading. I thoroughly look forward to volume three!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hubert Han

    Compared to the first volume, this was organised much more thematically which made it somewhat less enjoyable. Vol 1 was a real thriller, encapsulating to a large degree the juggling act that modern British PMs have to perform while in office. Perhaps as a result of Vol 2 covering all of four years, the author seemed to lose any semblance of a chronological record. In particular, Thatcher's week in HK/Moscow/DC was mentioned at disparate parts of the book, in respective relation to the Cold War, Compared to the first volume, this was organised much more thematically which made it somewhat less enjoyable. Vol 1 was a real thriller, encapsulating to a large degree the juggling act that modern British PMs have to perform while in office. Perhaps as a result of Vol 2 covering all of four years, the author seemed to lose any semblance of a chronological record. In particular, Thatcher's week in HK/Moscow/DC was mentioned at disparate parts of the book, in respective relation to the Cold War, the 'Special Relationship', the return of HK to China, the poll tax, and the Northern Irish troubles. There was also too much cross-chapter referencing (i.e. 'See Chapter X'). Nevertheless, this is an excellently researched and impeccably referenced work which portrays the PM as a person - going beneath the media expressions, politicking and outward stoicism to present the inner thoughts, conflicts, and principles which guided her to make the decisions she did.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joe Basile

    This is the second volume of Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, and I found it even more interesting than the first volume. I'd give this a 4.5 if that rating were available. The book is well written and engaging. I always find it interesting to get a non-U.S. perspective on the United States, so I found especially interesting the description that Moore provides of the Thatcher-Reagan relationship from a UK point of view. The book does provide quite a bit of "inside the locker room" comment This is the second volume of Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, and I found it even more interesting than the first volume. I'd give this a 4.5 if that rating were available. The book is well written and engaging. I always find it interesting to get a non-U.S. perspective on the United States, so I found especially interesting the description that Moore provides of the Thatcher-Reagan relationship from a UK point of view. The book does provide quite a bit of "inside the locker room" commentary on UK politics that I'm sure an English reader would find easier to follow that I did. This volume refers to a forthcoming third volume in the series, which I have not yet seen but hope to read when it is published.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sanjay RA

    Margaret Thatcher, and her legacy, remain a vibrant (if not controversial) topic in our political world. Clearly, she affected people, for good or for ill; one either loved her immensely, or hated her in equal measure. Charles Moore's biography 'Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith In London, Washington, and Moscow' is a stunning achievement in this genre. One feels that one is right there, watching the scenes unfold, one after the other. I particularly appreciated the differing (and sometimes opposin Margaret Thatcher, and her legacy, remain a vibrant (if not controversial) topic in our political world. Clearly, she affected people, for good or for ill; one either loved her immensely, or hated her in equal measure. Charles Moore's biography 'Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith In London, Washington, and Moscow' is a stunning achievement in this genre. One feels that one is right there, watching the scenes unfold, one after the other. I particularly appreciated the differing (and sometimes opposing) viewpoints of the persons around Thatcher, as she made her way through the maelstrom of British (and international) politics throughout her tenure. She does not always come off sympathetically, but absolutely honestly. Thatcher worked extremely hard as Britain's first female prime minister. Charles Moore has also worked extremely hard, to bring this amazing and astonishing person, and politician, to life. I recommend this book unreservedly. Sanjay R Singhal, RA

  10. 4 out of 5

    BrianC75

    A book which filled in the long cold afternoons and nights over the Christmas holidays. Again LONNNNG but as satisfying as Volume 1. It sets the atmosphere of politics at that time really well and pulls you along through the book very successfully. I found the section dealing with Scargill and the miners' strike fascinating and enlightening. The background facts relating to these big historic events can be so vital. Her shortcomings are not omitted and her treatment of many of her colleagues cou A book which filled in the long cold afternoons and nights over the Christmas holidays. Again LONNNNG but as satisfying as Volume 1. It sets the atmosphere of politics at that time really well and pulls you along through the book very successfully. I found the section dealing with Scargill and the miners' strike fascinating and enlightening. The background facts relating to these big historic events can be so vital. Her shortcomings are not omitted and her treatment of many of her colleagues could hardly be called sympathetic. However, Charles Moore has created something quite special here and has managed to create a body of work which informs and illuminates one of the great individuals of the last century.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jim Milway

    Volume 2 of the authorized biography. This one covers the period between her second and third successful elections. A very busy time. We hear about her battle with Commonwealth leaders on the best way to battle apartheid in South Africa, Ireland, the Westland Affair, her encounters with Gorbachev, her continuing relationship with Reagan, the poll tax, the EU, the Euro, and, my personal favourite, the defeat of Scargill. This is not a fawning biography, but rather a review of her complexity. She r Volume 2 of the authorized biography. This one covers the period between her second and third successful elections. A very busy time. We hear about her battle with Commonwealth leaders on the best way to battle apartheid in South Africa, Ireland, the Westland Affair, her encounters with Gorbachev, her continuing relationship with Reagan, the poll tax, the EU, the Euro, and, my personal favourite, the defeat of Scargill. This is not a fawning biography, but rather a review of her complexity. She really could to work with people and this foreshadows her downfall in Volume 3. I'm not looking forward to it - but I will have to read it. A good read if you want to relive the 1980s with the best PM since Churchill.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grace Hoffmann

    I liked the first book slightly better but this is one is also excellent. Definitive. So well and beautifully written. Super super interesting on her interactions with Gorbachev and also insightful and complete account of her various conflicts with her various ministers. How personality seeped into policy and government. Great discussion toward the end why people on the left hated her SO MUCH. I spent the school year of 1991-92 at the LSE and the faculty would hardly speak her name. But my Repub I liked the first book slightly better but this is one is also excellent. Definitive. So well and beautifully written. Super super interesting on her interactions with Gorbachev and also insightful and complete account of her various conflicts with her various ministers. How personality seeped into policy and government. Great discussion toward the end why people on the left hated her SO MUCH. I spent the school year of 1991-92 at the LSE and the faculty would hardly speak her name. But my Republican aunts from Northern Wisconsin thought she was the greatest political figure of their lifetimes. So great to read such a complete account of her amazing life. Taking a short break, but on to volume 3. Bravo Charles Moore.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jonny

    700 pages covering a single Parliamentary term is arguably too detailed (and frankly at times it is - particularly on how various Budgets unfolded), but the narrative arc of this volume is greater than the sum of its parts. On the privatisations, Westland and - particularly - relations with US and Russia, the impression you strongly get is of a Prime Minister who is continually isolated within her own Cabinet while still being at the peak of her powers. Like the best biographies, you come away l 700 pages covering a single Parliamentary term is arguably too detailed (and frankly at times it is - particularly on how various Budgets unfolded), but the narrative arc of this volume is greater than the sum of its parts. On the privatisations, Westland and - particularly - relations with US and Russia, the impression you strongly get is of a Prime Minister who is continually isolated within her own Cabinet while still being at the peak of her powers. Like the best biographies, you come away learning a lot more than you’d have thought going in about both the politics and culture of the time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Gilmore

    This book would get more stars if Charles Moore wasn't so bitchy about Denis Thatcher. Moore has some very snide footnotes and anecdotes which are just out of place/out of context. Otherwise Denis is invisible. Unfair. Moore also seems to side _with_ some of his sources, such as Douglas Hurd, rather than handle them a bit more even-handedly. Always be checking the footnotes,

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    A well written book of the period with lots of new source material that illuminates what was seen publicly at the time. Occasionally sycophantic, but not generally so. The only letdown was a 40 page whine on how the liberals art elite didn’t like her. Other than that a good history book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tony Peacock

    Excellent evaluation of Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister of the UK between 1979 and 1987. The book shows her major influence on the international stage as well. Excellent read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jaan Liitmäe

    Really liked it even if it is not an easy read - immense amount of people involved, stories intertwined hopelessly with each other etc. All in all can`t wait for vol 3. Really liked it even if it is not an easy read - immense amount of people involved, stories intertwined hopelessly with each other etc. All in all can`t wait for vol 3.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Esmeralda_Lattes And Literature

    Used for research paper. Wonderful resource and interesting read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    E

    Every once and a while it's good to "go deep" in one's reading, studying an issue, event, of person in some depth. And few figures are as fascinating and informative as Margaret Thatcher. This volume covers part of her first term and all of her second terms in office (picking up after the Falklands, which are in volume 1). It covers her able response to the miners' strike, her efforts at privatizing swaths of British industry that had unfortunately been nationalized by post-war socialistic gover Every once and a while it's good to "go deep" in one's reading, studying an issue, event, of person in some depth. And few figures are as fascinating and informative as Margaret Thatcher. This volume covers part of her first term and all of her second terms in office (picking up after the Falklands, which are in volume 1). It covers her able response to the miners' strike, her efforts at privatizing swaths of British industry that had unfortunately been nationalized by post-war socialistic governments (coal, aero, transport, telephone, and other industries), her outreach efforts to Irish peace, and other elements of daily government in one of the world's oldest democracies. These domestic chapters highlight the foibles of the parliamentary system, as well as Thatcher's surprising openness to persuasion and reluctance to make decisions. Once those decisions were made, however, she was fearless, adamant. I think this is important in a leader--you can take you time making a decision, but once you do so, don't be afraid to fight tooth-and-nail for the decision that was made! Of course the "other half" of Thatcher's reign involved the world stage and the Cold War. She famously described Gorbachev as a "man we can do business with," and her visit to Moscow in 1987 was highly successful. She of course had a close relationship with Reagan. She seemed to be the leader in the relationship, but he was not afraid to neglect or disagree with her, such as in his justifiable decision to invade and liberate Grenada. Thatcher understood the deterring necessity of nuclear weapons, perhaps even more so than Reagan did (for she felt responsible for the protection of western Europe, which sat beside the Iron Curtain, as well as her own country). Moore also delves at times into Thatcher the woman and Thatcher the personality. Why did liberals hate her? Because she was a strong conservative woman. Because she actually believed in the difference between good and evil. Because she respected Reagan and appreciated his leadership. Because she wouldn't play the mandarins' game. Because she wouldn't let the poor lounge about in their poverty. Because she believed in a strong national defense as a way to avoid bloodshed, not encourage it. And because they were jealous.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Colin Hoad

    Charles Moore continues to demonstrate his mastery of both the material and the art of the biography in this second volume. Once again, the pages (all 740 of them) flew by without the feeling of any degree of slog or effort which one can sometimes feel with books of such length. Volume II follows closely on the heels of the equally impressive first volume, and dives straight into the political drama of 1983. In many respects this volume is much more of a "politico's" book than the first, as it i Charles Moore continues to demonstrate his mastery of both the material and the art of the biography in this second volume. Once again, the pages (all 740 of them) flew by without the feeling of any degree of slog or effort which one can sometimes feel with books of such length. Volume II follows closely on the heels of the equally impressive first volume, and dives straight into the political drama of 1983. In many respects this volume is much more of a "politico's" book than the first, as it is entirely comprised of the political events from 1983 to 1987. Having had the 'origin' story in the first volume, Moore is able to devote his work to the detail of what happened during the second - and arguably most radical - Thatcher administration. Moore is deft at moving from domestic to foreign affairs, covering the drama of the Hong Kong agreement, the coming of Gorbachev and the complex relations with Reagan. With his access to previously unseen materials, Moore is able to shed a lot more light on the Thatcher-Reagan dynamic, to the extent that it becomes clear that Thatcher, far from being subservient to US policy, was often at odds with Reagan. The overall relationship was strong and constructive, but a number of incidents - including Libya and Reagan's Reykjavik moment with Gorbachev - gave rise to considerable chilliness between the two titans. The book ends after the historic successive third term has been secured, and volume 3 (unpublished at time of writing) will end at the final curtain. Moore teases the reader with hints of what will come, including some important and much-needed reflections on Thatcher's legacy. To keep us keen, he includes a fascinating chapter in this volume about the way Thatcher was portrayed at the time, in political cartoons, the media, television and, indeed, the manner in which she was (ill) received by the intelligentsia of her day. I must admit, it did amuse me to note that almost all of the playwrights, professors, authors and artists that thumbed their nose at her have long since been forgotten for the most part, while the Iron Lady's own legacy continues to live on. So much for the bien-pensant crowd.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Neil Hardie

    I came to this book with high hopes after thoroughly enjoying the first volume which I found informative, well researched and less biased than I had expected. Volume 2 has many of the same qualities but seems a little more rushed in preparation, perhaps not surprisingly. There was less that I didn't previously know in this volume, but for a serious student of politics some of the detail is fascinating as are some of the might have beens. In spite of the detail the author's decision to use a them I came to this book with high hopes after thoroughly enjoying the first volume which I found informative, well researched and less biased than I had expected. Volume 2 has many of the same qualities but seems a little more rushed in preparation, perhaps not surprisingly. There was less that I didn't previously know in this volume, but for a serious student of politics some of the detail is fascinating as are some of the might have beens. In spite of the detail the author's decision to use a thematic structure rather than a strictly chronological one works well and the book is easy to read. It is a must read for any serious student of the period I lived through the 1980s and actively opposed Thatcherism at the time. After reading the book I haven't changed my views that her economic policies were fundamentally wrong and her influence on British society was far reaching but profoundly destructive. That may be why I question the balance of the book. There is a lot on foreign policy, especially her relations with Reagan and Gorbachev but far less on the consequences of her policies at home and opposition to them. For example the Greenham Common peace camps are barely mentioned. It could be that Mrs Thatcher simply ignored the realities of mass unemployment, the destruction of the mining and shipbuilding communities, the politicisation of the police, the breakdown of traditional families among the working class, spiralling crime rates etc. But if that was the case it would have been better if Charles Moore had made it clearer. Overall the best book on Thatcher so far but by no means the last word.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott Jeffe

    As I read my way through this book (about one of the "heroes" of my college years) I couldn't stop thinking "why do 'great' leaders so often prove to a) be such shits, and b) not end of being all that great behind closed doors?" Thatcher changed Britain for sure, and I maintain that they were for more in need of a "conservative revolution" than the US ever was (I mean, come on, the unions were making the country freeze in the winter and wade through uncollected garbage in the summer). But Thatch As I read my way through this book (about one of the "heroes" of my college years) I couldn't stop thinking "why do 'great' leaders so often prove to a) be such shits, and b) not end of being all that great behind closed doors?" Thatcher changed Britain for sure, and I maintain that they were for more in need of a "conservative revolution" than the US ever was (I mean, come on, the unions were making the country freeze in the winter and wade through uncollected garbage in the summer). But Thatcher, in this meticulously researched and reported 'authorized' biography, proves her critics true when they called her TBW (That Bloody Woman). My god, where would you start to comment on her abuse of her colleagues (while mothering her office staff), her belittling of her enemies, her indecision (which was a revelation), and her inability to ever stop talking. After I finished the book I went to YouTube and watched about 90 minutes of interviews and performance in the House of Commons and while I continue to say that no one has ever been able to flay the opposition like she could, she was just unbearable to listen to. I've always wondered what people meant when they called someone a "priggish schoolgirl". Now I understand.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Harrison

    This exemplary biography covers the period between the end of the Falklands War and Thatcher’s third and final general election victory. The era of High Thatcherism – privatization, the miners’ strike, the Big Bang in the City, and “doing business” with Gorbachev – this was the time the lady was at the height of her power. Charles Moore had unrestricted access to documents, and interviewed many key players. His exhaustive research produced an authoritative, richly detailed account of a tumultuou This exemplary biography covers the period between the end of the Falklands War and Thatcher’s third and final general election victory. The era of High Thatcherism – privatization, the miners’ strike, the Big Bang in the City, and “doing business” with Gorbachev – this was the time the lady was at the height of her power. Charles Moore had unrestricted access to documents, and interviewed many key players. His exhaustive research produced an authoritative, richly detailed account of a tumultuous period. Moore is a Thatcherite, but it’s no mere hagiography. This “wet” social democrat certainly found it a compelling read. I loved the anecdotes (often amusing at Thatcher’s expense) and the fascinating, if sometimes trivial details. My favourite is the story of lunch at Chequers where the host proudly served cheap Liebfraumilch, announcing that it was a special offer from The News of the World. Moore’s prose is as crisp as the creases in his Saville Row trousers, and he ensures that the narrative flows without getting bogged down in the details. While obviously not a book for the legions of hard-core Thatcher haters, most people with an interest in UK politics and history should enjoy it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Brown

    Love her or loathe her - even now and whether you remember much of the events and characters covered in the second volume - this is an impressive piece of detailed research, examining the foreign policy triumphs, the struggles both within her cabinet and with her European and US allies, key domestic themes and, presaging the final volume, the beginnings of the end, with increased hostility from Heseltine, Lawson and Howe, increasingly marginalised and resentful. Apart from a weak chapter at the Love her or loathe her - even now and whether you remember much of the events and characters covered in the second volume - this is an impressive piece of detailed research, examining the foreign policy triumphs, the struggles both within her cabinet and with her European and US allies, key domestic themes and, presaging the final volume, the beginnings of the end, with increased hostility from Heseltine, Lawson and Howe, increasingly marginalised and resentful. Apart from a weak chapter at the end which seemed to be little more than a set of quotes from leading intellectuals and left wing artistes bemoaning her success, followed up by an awkward and mercifully brief discussion on her fashion sense, the meat of the analysis focused on actual policy and its impact on British politics, society and international standing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Rose

    Interesting book, but felt more sanitised then the previous volume. Obviously, this is the authorised biography and written by a sympathetic author. The most interesting bits were where you were required to read between the lines. I also found the sections dealing with MTs interactions with Reagan interesting. Clearly, a formidable, difficult, arrogant person, but also clear that she was principled, determined and appearing almost "Victorian" in her values. I would have liked a bit more balance Interesting book, but felt more sanitised then the previous volume. Obviously, this is the authorised biography and written by a sympathetic author. The most interesting bits were where you were required to read between the lines. I also found the sections dealing with MTs interactions with Reagan interesting. Clearly, a formidable, difficult, arrogant person, but also clear that she was principled, determined and appearing almost "Victorian" in her values. I would have liked a bit more balance on the human impact of her policies - particularly the miners strikes (there is barely any mention of Orgreave). However, I guess that unlike the first volume, the author here is more constrained by government legislation. I would recommend this book, but it did take me an awfully long time to read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David P

    Like the first volume this book is brilliantly researched and very readable with an excellent, if occasionally fawning insight into the woman behind the iron facade. However, it covers a much shorter period that the first volume which, in places, makes it a little more chewy, and dare I say it, sometimes overanalysed. There are only so many times we can be told about how bad Mrs Thatcher was at managing her cabinet. The sections of the miners strike and her relations with Reagan and Gorbachev are Like the first volume this book is brilliantly researched and very readable with an excellent, if occasionally fawning insight into the woman behind the iron facade. However, it covers a much shorter period that the first volume which, in places, makes it a little more chewy, and dare I say it, sometimes overanalysed. There are only so many times we can be told about how bad Mrs Thatcher was at managing her cabinet. The sections of the miners strike and her relations with Reagan and Gorbachev are particularly fascinating, but much of the ground has been well covered elsewhere, which is why I found this volume slightly less engaging than the first, but still very much worth reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ruchik

    Among the best autobiographies, i read..Really explains why she was such a great figure of the 20th century. Explains the context of the time very well . Explains the choices she made and why she made it. The episodes of the miner's strike , privatizations, Russia, Regan ,Ireland all are dealt with magnificently..

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ben Monro-Davies

    This is just so good. Of course it's very detailed which might put off non political junkies. But equally it deals with such enormous moments - Gorbachev, the miners strike - you are left astonished at what a period the mid 1980s was. And at the heart of it an utterly compelling character - brilliant, brave, impossible and pretty strange.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Read it in two chunks. Workmanlike rather than revelatory there's a lot less access to privileged sources than the first volume and as a consequence can read somewhat predictably to those of us very familiar with the events being covered. Gives strong sense of the time though and gives authoritative and reasoned sense of the big issues of the time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Khairul Hezry

    The second volume of Charles Moore's bio on Margaret Thatcher. The 1980s to the poll tax and her downfall. Thought this would be the final one but no, there will be a third volume.

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