Book Review: “Margaret Thatcher: Not for Turning, Volume One” by Charles Moore

Charles Moore’s authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher will do little to change peoples’ opinions of Britain’s “Iron Lady” but does add a great deal to the general public’s knowledge of Baroness Thatcher’s life.

Margaret Thatcher: Not for Turning, Volume One is the first book in a two-volume biography of the first woman prime minister of Great Britain. This first book covers Lady Thatcher’s life from birth to the end of the 1982 Falkland’s War with Argentina. As an authorized biographer Moore had access not only to all the public documents of Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister (1979 to 1990) but also to the secret papers. He also has unfettered access to the Thatcher family as well as the Baroness’ help in arranging interviews with political allies and co-workers.

In this book the reader learns perhaps more than they might have wanted to know about Thatcher’s early life, family relationships and career. Using a set of 150 letters between Lady Thatcher and her older sister, Muriel, the reader finds out that Margaret was almost a good time girl before she met and married Denis Thatcher. She dated often with a goodly number of different men and was not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get what she felt was her due.

Nor was the Thatcher’s picture-perfect marriage actually so picture-perfect. Denis Thatcher had a nervous breakdown in late sixties and ran off to South Africa for awhile. Moore reports that many of the Thatcher’s family friends felt this event was caused by Margaret’s single-minded focus on her growing political career.

After dealing with this, Moore starts to focus on Thatcher’s political life and times. He opines that there was nothing particularly special or inevitable about Lady Thatcher’s rise to power. Rather it was, like many historical events, made up of a series of accidents and unforeseen circumstances. If there is one theme that Moore brings to the front of Thatcher’s career, it is that her political enemies nearly always underestimated her as a politician and a leader.

Moore passes rather rapidly over Thatcher’s turmoil-filled, first term of rioting and high unemployment. But he does go into some detail on the inner workings of the War Cabinet during the Falkland’s War and Lady Thatcher’s determination to see the conflict through.

Moore’s prose can be a bit dense at times, but is precise and full of wry wit and good humor. “Margaret Thatcher: Not for Turning” is a required read for anyone interested in Margaret Thatcher as a person, politician and world leader.

 

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