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The Downing Street Years [Paperback]

Margaret Thatcher
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Mar 1995
This first volume of Margaret Thatcher's memoirs encompasses the whole of her time as Prime Minister - the formation of her goals in the early 1980s, the Falklands, the General Election victories of 1983 and 1987 and, eventually, the circumstances of her fall from political power. She also gives frank accounts of her dealings with foreign statesmen and her own ministers.

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 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 421,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A book which should be read by everyone with any interest in contemporary history of political affairs’ Norman Tebbit, Daily Mail

‘Some things in this life are priceless. So are Margaret Thatcher’s guts. They have left their mark on the world. So will “The Downing Street Years”’ Daily Express

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Downing Street Years: One View 18 Nov 2005
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight into the Iron Lady 9 April 2013
By ReviewBlog51 TOP 500 REVIEWER
I am far too young to be able to remember Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. However, I have done extensive research into her, and whilst I would never have voted for her, I do respect the fact that she was a great leader, public speaker and had the strength to carry out her convictions. I might be of the opinion that she did more bad than good, but I'm not narrow-minded enough to see her considerable strengths.

I read 'The Downing Street Years' several years ago, and despite it being perhaps a little too long, I thought that it was an excellent political memoir, and a fascinating insight into the mind of Britain's first woman Prime Minister.

The book is self serving (but would you expect anything else?), but it is also very well written, frank and quite honest. All of the many important events that took place during her leadership are spoken about in great detail and are very interesting to read. Her final days in office also make for fascinating reading.

This is a book that I recommend to anyone with an interest in modern political history. If you are looking for an account of Thatcher's early life and how she became Prime Minister, you need her other book: 'The Path To Power'.

Margaret Thatcher died yesterday, love her or loathe her, she will be remembered (for both good and bad) forever.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Improved understanding at a price 2 Oct 2004
There are rises of humour in a territory that is unfailingly flat and at times arid. (It has occured to me that there is little in the book that goes beyond a perfunctory review of the characteristics of the people that Mrs Thatcher was involved with for so long.) It is a dull read. The writing is rarely gripping and often little more than functional - I wonder what input her staff had? There is little self-doubt in the book which stands in contrast to other accounts I have read of Mrs Thatcher as a worrier. Mrs Thatcher's belief in Britain is unfailing, an article of faith in her own life. Because of this, or because she has to present this to the British people (a patronising rule in most political memoirs) there is little inquiry into the rights or wrongs of history or of British policy. Certainly the murkier side of politics is ungazed at by the reader in this account.
There are some impossibilities about this book. It is impossible that things were quite as simple as Mrs Thathcher puts them, it is impossible to not admire her spirit, and it is impossible to read a second time (in quick succession except under the most urgent need) - life is too short.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars She was great.
She is and always will be a great Prime Minister. Pity the following didn't follow her example. This lady is not for turning.
Published 9 months ago by Mr. C. R. Webb
3.0 out of 5 stars It's so long!
My own fault but I hadn't realised how long this book was, and I have to say it's put me off reading it so far. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Fezray
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for those interested in contemporary society
Margaret Thatcher's Memoirs offer an insight that one could only imagine to be part of during any reign and fall of power. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mr Byng
5.0 out of 5 stars Opinion changing account of a decade in power...
Having been born in the mid-1980s and growing up in Liverpool, I have heard more than my fair share of negative feelings towards Margaret Thatcher. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr Bookman
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Interesting Journal
I haven't finished reading the book yet but what I have seen I was very impressed with. There is a lot of attention to detail and it is obvious that a lot of work and time has... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Miss S Naqui
4.0 out of 5 stars The voice of Margaret the grocer's daughter
Anyone interested in the Thatcher years or Thatcherism will need to read the woman herself. As Charles Moore's biography makes clear, Thatcher had help with the book - not... Read more
Published 14 months ago by C. D. Vanderweele
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A brilliant insightful well-written account of the Great Lady's progressively revolutionary time in power. Good value book. R.I.P. Mrs Thatcher
Published 15 months ago by B23.cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting read, whatever your political persuasion may be
Growing up in the 70s & 80s, Margaret Thatcher is a key person in my history. Whatever you think of her policies - and I think some were great and some were not - this is a really... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Andrew D
5.0 out of 5 stars Brought for my Husband
My Husband is still reading this book as it as many pages but it is an insight into what happened in the early year !!
Still reading.
Published 17 months ago by gilllg
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
Bought for my son to learn more about politics and to find more about Margaret Thatcher's political career. He is still reading it
Published 17 months ago by Mrs. S. Short
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