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The Downing Street Years Paperback – 13 Mar 1995

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Product details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (13 Mar. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006383211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006383215
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 494,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

The appearance of Margaret Thatcher's memoirs has been one of the most eagerly awaited publishing events in many years. As this book now shows, rarely has such a sense of anticipation been so amply justified.

No prime minister of modern times has sought to change Britain and its place in the world as radically as Margaret Thatcher. Her government was, she says, about the application of a philosophy, not the implementation of an administrative programme. She sets out here with characteristic forcefulness and conviction the reasons for her beliefs and how she sought to put them into action. She gives riveting accounts of the great and critical moments of her premiership – the Falklands War, the Miner's strike, the Brighton bomb, the Westland Affair and her three election victories. Her judgements of other world statesman and her Cabinet colleagues are often brutally frank, her criticism devastating. The book ends with an account of her last days in power which as gripping as anything in thriller fiction.

This is a work intensely revealing of the mind and personality of its author: her thoroughness, her passion for change, her tenacity and her astonishing determination are evident in every chapter of the book. The impression which emerges is, as one recent commentator put it, of a world-class battleship at full steam ahead.

"A book which should be read by everyone with any interest in contemporary history of political affairs."

"Some things in life are priceless. So are Margaret Thatcher's guts. They have left their mark on the world. So will 'The Downing Street Years'"
BERNARD INGHAM, 'Daily Express'

About the Author

In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became the first woman British Prime Minister. A decade later she became the first premier for 160 years to win three consecutive general elections. In 1990 she resigned her leadership of an increasingly divided and turbulent government. She is the only PM to have given her name to a branch of political philosophy, and arguably the most important figure in postwar British politics.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Green mountains on 18 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
Thatcher intermingles in-depth policy discussions with informative accounts of her relationships with other MP's and associates in this interesting account of her years as Prime Minister. With Thatcher leading a revived Tory party conservative policies are given an authority that they did not always have with Heath or Major (though to be fair, their periods in office were somewhat different.) Persuasiveness matched with occasional flashes of keen insight characterize this book's better moments. What she truly did well is here - a crusader against the Soviet Bloc, moderating union power, and privitizing nationalized industry. Explanations of these and other issues are intertwined among a broad spectrum of historical narrative.

Margaret whipped some unnecessarily bureaucratic mindsets into line, and more streamlined governing was the result - one interesting proof of that shift can be seen after Blair came to power; he moved the labour party right, abandoning several of His parties far left ideas which Thatcher's successes discredited.

Margaret generally made good headway during her tour as PM, but she never really had absolutely clear sailing - we are given several glimpses of what seems to be a rotating set of her own MP's displeased with some aspect of her leadership. Its a sad and fast paced accounting that Mrs. Thatcher gives of her final period days in Number 10. We would all hurry through our embarrassing moments, but to her credit she lingers long enough to give the story - of her Downing Street Years - a proper and not-so-happy ending. Her words just before the final vote - "I fight on, I fight to win," - I remember well.

Some will perhaps underestimate Thatchers ultimate influence.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By on 1 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
It is often said that hind sight is 20/20, and the Ex-Prime Minister has made good use of this theory when writing.
Her recollection of the events frequently tie badly with the recollections of others, and of the media at the time. The book is self justifying, and unfortunately often finds her so desperate to vindicate criticism against her that the actual history is lost. I would not suggest that this is deliberate, but rather a product of a person completely convinced of her own correctness.
There can be no denying that Thatcher was a strong and highly driven leader. The reader follows the story from the start of her leadership experience, displacing Ted Heath as leader, following her through mounting confidence in her own decisions and ability to govern, and developing into an absolute belief in her own ability. The final chapters deal with a Margaret Thatcher so convinced of her own invulnerability, that she completely fails anticipate the seriousness of the plot against her, and is overthrown in the same manor that she overthrew Heath.
Any reader of this book will find illumination shed on the current state of the Tory Party, as the party loses all internal cohesion under Thatcher's and subsequently falls apart when she is deposed.
When read in conjunction with other books covering Thatcher's reign the biography sheds light more on the character of this world famous leader and the contest in which it developed than on any actual reliable historical record.
Readers may also wish to read Woodrow Wyatt's biography which displays a Thatcher racked by doubts and feeling besieged by enemies. Perhaps a combination of both characters may be more accurate!
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 19 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most interesting political autobiographies I have read (and I've read many of them). I must confess that interest was intensified due to the fact that I worked in the House of Commons during her tenure in office, and indeed worked during the 1987 General Election for two Conservative Members of Parliament (David Amess of Basildon and David Evennett of Erith & Crayford--yes, I know, you've likely never heard of either of them).
This is actually the first volume of Margaret Thatcher's books to be published; the prequel is 'The Path to Power' and there is a follow-up, 'The Collected Speeches', but for those interested, 'The Downing Street Years' is the book to have.
It begins with the 1979 General Election, and carries forward to her resignation as Prime Minister a decade later. In this volume are her perspectives on all the various Cabinet intrigues, shuffles and reshuffles; her attempts to find civil servants and other helpers who were not of the old guard but of a new mentality, often asking, 'Is he one of us?' by which she meant, not is he a Conservative, but rather, will he get something accomplished, is he a do-er?
Thatcher's perspectives on the various scandals and inter-Cabinet fighting makes for interesting reading -- she is candid in her likes and dislikes among her Cabinet colleagues. Her final row with Geoffrey Howe, who delivered a scathing speech in the HoC that mostly prompted the leadership crisis, is enlightening. (I've not seen his version, if one exists--it would be good to compare the two sides.) She was very disappointed at the end when she thought she had the continued support of the party, but each of her ministers and 'friends' told her in turn that while he supported her, others would not.
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