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Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning (Vol 1) Hardcover – 23 Apr 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (23 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713992824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713992823
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 5.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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 ... During the decade and a half he worked on this authorised biography - of which this is only the first volume - Moore had unprecedented access to her private papers, on condition that nothing be published until after her death. He interviewed just about everyone who knew Thatcher, from her private secretaries to her political enemies, and he did so meticulously, in reverse order of age ... The thoroughness of the research, the hundreds of interviews, and above all the access to her family and friends, enabled Moore to produce a multifaceted picture of a compelling life ... Although this is very much a narrative biography, it is also a book about ideas: where they come from, how they affect people and how they get shaped into policies ... In the end, this combination of biography and intellectual history works perfectly ... To understand what happened to Britain during her prime ministership and afterwards, it really is important to understand who she was: Moore's Thatcher will now become the definitive account (Anne Applebaum Daily Telegraph)

Sixteen years ago, Mrs Thatcher picked Moore to write her authorised biography, not to be published until after her death. When his appointment was announced, her supporters cheered, and her opponents groaned: Moore was, they both felt, strongly Thatcherite, and would surely give her the easiest of rides. Both sides have grossly underestimated him. With this first volume ... Moore has produced a biography so masterly - so packed with fascinating detail, with such a strong narrative drive, propelled by a central character who is at the same time both very bizarre and very conventional - that it comes as close as biography can come to being a work of art ... One of the many strengths of his book is that it never loses sight of just how unusual she was, in terms of both her personal psychology and her place in public life ... This book is a triumph of diligence. Moore interviewed 315 people, and was clearly blessed with the knack of getting them to open up. Ribald insults, gossip, political secrets, private grievances and funny stories - many of them very, very funny - fly off every page. But it is also a triumph of narrative art and human understanding, at its centre a peculiar force of nature, never to be repeated. 'People are fascinated, appalled, delighted by her,' writes Moore. 'Many think she saved Britain, many that she destroyed it.' I would be surprised if they don't all agree, though, that this is one of the greatest political biographies ever written (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

He mines his sources skilfully without becoming their captive. His prose is more considered and his conclusions more nuanced than his ... journalism. He is not afraid to address the contradictions and tease out the inconsistences of his subject. Nor to be critical, sometimes deeply so. The result is to paint a much more multidimensional portrait of Thatcher than the caricature heroine adored by the right or the devil incarnate loathed by the left ... The prose is intricate, elegant and laced with dry humour ... This biography ... immensely adds to our knowledge and understanding of the longest-reigning prime minister of the democratic age (Observer Andrew Rawnsley)

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 Editor of the Daily Telegraph 1995-2003, for which he is still a regular columnist. Volume One of his biography of Margaret Thatcher was published in 2013.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 88 people found the following review helpful By J. Goddard on 30 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By I Rascible on 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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By silverfawkes on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Neil Adams on 9 July 2013
Format: Hardcover
Although I'm a regular reader of Moore in The Spectator, I was astonished to learn that this was his first book. And what a corker it is. I was a mere callow teenager when Margaret Thatcher came to power but my youth is permanently scarred by her slightly scary presence. I fancy that the second part of the biography will contain much more about the Thatcher I grew to despise, but this book sets out so well how she became so powerful that she felt herself able to commit to policies that, by and large, negate the more or less positive legacy of the events covered in this book. I'm not talking about the economy or union confrontation or the Falklands, but the crass political errors of the poll tax, of Clause 28 and the dismantling of democratic local government, particularly in London. But these events are to come, and I look forward to Moore's interpretation of them.
Moore's style is clear and often drily amusing. He carries a complex narrative extremely well, rarely allowing digression, and this, with the thrilling and frightening Falklands episode to end the book, makes for a satisfying and informative read. He humanises Margaret Thatcher in a way I should hardly have expected; yes, warts and all. All praise too to Moore's research team, who have ammassed some startling facts for him to use.
A few minor quibbles - a slightly snobbish obsession with the schools people went to in the footnotes, and too much use of 'sic', which in my view should be confined to mistakes which get in the way of understanding, rather than the mere grammatical errors we all make.
I look forward to volume 2 keenly.
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