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Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning [Paperback]

Charles Moore
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 April 2014

Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential figures of the postwar era. Volume One of Moore's authorized biography gives unparalleled insight into her early life, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, and recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, taking us up to the zenith of her power: victory in the Falklands.

Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues, this is the indispensable portrait of a towering figure of our times.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140279563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140279566
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Moore has produced a biography so masterly ... that it comes as close as biography can come to being a work of art (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

Moore's great gift is his ability to make Thatcher's story fresh again, and above all to remind us of how odd she was ... the access to her family and friends enabled Moore to produce a multifaceted picture of a compelling life ... [this] will now become the definitive account (Anne Applebaum Daily Telegraph)

Intricate, elegant and laced with dry humour (Andrew Rawnsley Observer)

Outstandingly good (A.N. Wilson Evening Standard)

About the Author

Charles Moore was born in 1956 and educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read History. He joined the staff of the Daily Telegraph in 1979, and as a political columnist in the 1980s covered several years of Mrs Thatcher's first and second governments. He was Editor of the Spectator 1984-90; Editor of the Sunday Telegraph 1992-95; and 1995-2003 Editor of the Daily Telegraph, for which he is still a regular columnist.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reasons to buy this book 1 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Whatever your views on Margaret Thatcher there are 5 reasons to buy this book:

1. It is extremely well written and never less than interesting.

2. It provides the context for the events in which decisions are made, but concisely.

3. It provides original material in the form of Mrs T's comments on various documents relating to important political decisions, which in themselves tell us a lot about her and her style of managing and controlling - indirectly and critically, mainly negative and often rude.

4. It includes comments from former ministers, political advisers and civil servant, some from written sources and some from interviews all pulled together in relation to events.

5. It is balanced. It gives credit to others for aspects of Thatcherite policy, in particular Geoffrey Howe. If you did not like Mrs T before - hectoring, arrogant, know-it-all - you will not change your views. If you liked her determination and stubbornness and grasp of the demotic, you will not change your view.

Personally, I did not like her hectoring and bullying style. But I found the way Moore wove together the material - her views, others views and facts - masterful.
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81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography 30 April 2013
It's probably helpful to say at the start that my political views are very different from those of Margaret Thatcher and, from what I know of his journalism, Charles Moore. However, I take my hat off to Mr. Moore for a first-class biography (well, Volume One, anyway) that is worthy of the importance of its subject.

I was hopeful of a good biography, but was conscious that Mr. Moore hadn't written a book before. It is to the credit of Margaret Thatcher and those around her that Charles Moore was chosen for this task and given such freedom (to a degree that is highly unusual in an authorised biography). Yes, he's clearly an admirer of Mrs. Thatcher. However, he brings his trademark independence of mind to the role. Once one accepts the glaring and inevitable Conservative political bias (with a big gulp, in my case), one finds his judgements invariably both thoughtful and thought-provoking. We get a wealth of detail that both humanises and deepens his subject, but he doesn't shy away from less positive aspects of Margaret Thatcher's character and actions. There is also an admirable humility in his tendency to leave the reader to make up their own mind about so much of what he reveals. This occasionally applies even when those revelations are jaw-dropping.

The diligence in research is impressive. There are some elements of luck, such as the treasure-trove of letters from Margaret Thatcher to her older sister. However, often one makes one's luck through persistence and hard work. The writing is rarely as good as Mr. Moore's journalism, but that's understandable given that he's writing in a (for him) new and more tightly-constrained format. The occasional infelicity, repetition and typo doesn't detract from a fluid and engaging narrative.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and Unbiased 11 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Charles Moore has painstakingly researched every source and has had privileged access to his subject, her family, her colleagues and members of the Civil Service as well as international political figures and officials. The result is a meticulously researched thorough biography: It is certainly not a hagiographic account of her career up to 1982. There is respect and admiration but he cannot disguise his inability to like her.

Although no detail has been left out he has an excellent style that makes for easy reading

There are no other books that give so detailed account of how the UK reached its economic low point in 1979 and how Margaret Thatcher prepared to turn round the country's economic fortunes albeit without much strategy or coherent planning. She relied .more on conviction than intellectual analysis.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and highly readable 13 Sep 2013
By whatlep
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like her or loathe her, Margaret Thatcher was the major political figure of late 20th century British politics. This biography is a highly readable account of her life and career to the Falklands conflict. Although an authorised biography, Charles Moore's account is far from an uncritical look at Mrs Thatcher both as a politician and a person. The book quotes in full a damning review of Thatcher by a senior civil servant and provides some interesting insights into her approach to those "left behind" as her life moved on. For example, her coolness in respect of her mother and, to a lesser extent, her father, once enmeshed in politics.

Moore's writing style is relaxed and yet comprehensive in its scholarship. The volume of background material referenced by footnotes is enormous. Scene setting required for an understanding of how the Thatcher approach developed and was implemented on the back of her opponents disorder in 1979 is deftly done. Moore does not shy away from the fact that Mrs Thatcher was extremely fortunate both to get away with errors of policy in 1980/81 and to have such weak opposition both within her own party and in the Labour opposition of the era.

Critical accolades for the book are well-deserved. Anyone with even a passing interest in Britain in the postwar era should read this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Riveting book, just couldn't put it down
Published 9 days ago by henry teggart
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Informative , interesting and an insight to Mrs Thatcher's ideology
Published 12 days ago by Keith Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Putting the great back into Britain
Have not had time to read this yet but as a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher I am sure that I will enjoy it.
Published 13 days ago by Eve Humphreys
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent service and v good book. Thank you.
Published 13 days ago by hilary elizabeth jane scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Background and events described and explained.
A weighty tome that is worth sticking with. It describe's Mrs T's background, explains why some decisions were taken and includes major events in modern history. Read more
Published 17 days ago by RFT
5.0 out of 5 stars Am looking forward to volume two. I bought the ...
Am looking forward to volume two. I bought the book for my husband and now it's gone round the family!
Marvellously well written.
Published 1 month ago by Sonja G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Iron lady with tears
I have never read a political biography that is such a page turner as this. I cannot praise it too highly. Read more
Published 2 months ago by G. J. Weeks
2.0 out of 5 stars Wasted opportunity.
Turgid. Takes too long to get anywhere. It's her politics we are interested in, not her taste in dresses or letters to her sister. Wasted opportunity.
Published 2 months ago by Mr Paul Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as expected
Published 3 months ago by R. A. Gordon-smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by IAN DORAN
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