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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography
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...
Published on 30 April 2013 by J. Goddard

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars first book on my new kindle
A very interesting read. A very interesting lady. Because ive read it on my new kindke I miss being able to flick back and forward through the book to check all the references. And there are a lot of references!
I like how the author makes her human and super woman all at the same time. No easy feat with a very private woman who appears to have little time for...
Published 16 months ago by Elaine Whitbread


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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography, 30 April 2013
By 
J. Goddard "Jim Goddard" (Shipley) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. I even enjoyed the occasional sly flashes of humour. I've read other biographies of Margaret Thatcher (along with many other political biographies and related accounts from this period) and yet here I learned much that was new and encountered fresh perspectives on key events. I came away feeling well rewarded for my time. Volume One is as good as I could have expected. I'm looking forward to Volume Two.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reasons to buy this book, 1 Jun. 2013
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and Unbiased, 11 May 2013
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This review is from: Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning (Kindle Edition)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Moore turns political biography into a thriller, 9 July 2013
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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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and highly readable, 13 Sept. 2013
By 
whatlep (Worcestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iron lady with tears, 14 Aug. 2014
By 
G. J. Weeks (London) - See all my reviews
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I have never read a political biography that is such a page turner as this. I cannot praise it too highly. I have read her autobiography and several biographies but this is in a class of its own. Moore has done a great deal of researcrh and has had access to previously unavailable source. It is interesting to see the preconditions for writing this authorised biography. The lady was not to see any of the text and it was not to be published while she was alive. Lady T comes across as a formidable person. She advanced in a political career when prejudice against women was formidable. She was the Iron Lady who cried. I lost count of the number of times she shed tears. Often portrayed as ruthlessly uncaring, here we see a leader who cared about people, especially the military who risked their lives. One remarkable fact that emerges several times is how little things have huge consequences. It seems she was only nominated to stand as candidate for Finchley as the constituency chairman switched a couple of votes in the ballot. A Irish republican MP wanted to keep Callaghan's government in power but was pressurised by his own people not to vote and so came the general election triumph of the Conservatives. But the really thrilling chapters are the last two on the Falklands conflict. The verdict is that no-one else would have had the determination to see it through against the odds and yes there was a good military reason to sink the Belgrano. Lady T is a Marmite character. You love her or hate her. Moore is no hagiographer but it is obvious that we both share in admiration for a great woman. I anticipate with pleasure the second volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic political biography., 9 Jun. 2013
This book will join the ranks of the great classic political biographies.You do not have to love Thatcher to be in awe of Moores achievement here.The book replaces all earlier biographies -even John Campbells excellent 2-volume effort -which has held the field up until now!It is obvious Moore is a Thatcher supporter and in general the narrative is broadly supportive of her.However, Moore criticises where he feels it is due and he recognises and illuminates Thatchers faults as well as her strong points.
Two points make the book memorable,
1. The cache of letters written by Thatcher to her sister in her youth.In my opinion these show Thatcher up to be shallow, materialistic ,manipulative and emotionally cold.Moore could easily have supressed them as unflattering to his subject but he gives them full emphasis.You also find out about boyfriends before Denis and the incredible story of how she palms one of them, Willie Cullen, on her older sister and they both accept the arrangement and get married.You also get Margarets somewhat unflattering initial impression of Denis.Moore has also found out that (unknown to her) she received the Conservative nomination for Finchley by the electoral fraud of the constituency chairman.
2.Moore writes fluently and in an easyily readable style and even obscure economic theories are made clear in the text.
Buy this book if you have any interest in British politics or history or just in people!Not to be missed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sound Biography of Thatcher, 12 Jun. 2013
By 
David Micheal Beecham (Lincoln, Lincolnshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Moore handles the subject of Thatcher, a divisive figure in British politics, in thorough and skilful manner. Given Moore's position, I was a little sceptical about how he was going to portray Thatcher, but the account given is thoughtful, critical and insightful. Moore's examination of Thatcher's personal life, her experiences of being a woman in politics and her comments on government documents provides the reader with a more nuanced perspective of Thatcher, rather than the mainstream media interpretation of Thatcher as a conviction politician. Nevertheless, there is simplicity in Thatcher's thinking in relation to socialism, although one does have to place Thatcher within the historical context of the time when leading intellectuals were discussing the merits and demerits of socialism, particularly in the guise of the USSR. What is striking to the contemporary reader is the interpretation of the 1970s and 80s by Moore and other authors covering this period. Overall, this is a good biography and I recommend it to anyone interested in this period of British politics. I eagerly await the second volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'one off', 4 Jun. 2013
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I'm only half way through this official biography but it is rivetting - meticulously researched and well written. Not at all dry and boring and it just shows in detail what and amazing character Mrs Thatcher was from a young age. She was extremely feminine, played the piano and loved dancing. What an extraordinary achievement it was for a woman, from any background, but especially a grammar school girl from the English provinces, to climb the greasy pole of politics right to the top, with a razor brain, sheer hard work and inspiration - and to be re-elected three times. She restored Britain's standing in the world, liberated the populous from the tyranny of the Trade Unions, encouraged all to aspire, took on the Argentinians and generally showed us all what courage is.
I'm already looking forward to Volume 2 although I really wish she had retired after 10 years, and wasn't dumped by her own party.
nevertheless she has shown that a woman can make it to the top and make a difference - but they have to be better than the men, and she was.
RIP.
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87 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Achievement, 24 April 2013
By 
C. E. Utley "Charles Utley" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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I won't pretend I have read it all yet. I only acquired my copy last night (at the launch party). But I have read enough to be confident that this is a masterpiece. I can't think of any biography published so soon after its subject's death which is anywhere near as thorough, objective and well written as this book is.

A lot of the credit has to be given to Lady Thatcher herself. No other modern politician would have done as she did. She asked Charles Moore to write her biography as long ago as 1997. She allowed him access to all her papers. She told all her friends (and her political enemies) that they could speak freely to him. She made only two conditions. First, the book could not be published until after her death. Second, she was not prepared to read any of it. So an authorized biography of a leading politician would be written by an author who knew he could say what he actually thought without having to worry about what his subject would make of it.

The result is astounding. Yes, of course, Moore is mostly sympathetic to Lady Thatcher. He is on her side. But he sees her faults, and doesn't shrink from writing about them. This is definitely not the work of a sycophant. It is a scholarly review of the life of a controversial stateswoman with, as one of her former colleagues put it to me last night, "warts and all".

One of the things which struck me most was how beautifully written the book is. It is not usual to describe a political biography as being a page-turner. But Moore's biography is just that. It is very difficult to put it down. The prose is incredibly easy to read, and one wants to go on reading it: to see what happens next.

The sad thing is that we will almost certainly have to wait too long for the second volume. Thatcher's later years as Prime Minister were, I reckon, even more interesting than the earlier ones. I long to know what Moore makes of those later years. But I must be patient.

In the meantime, I have no hesitation in commending this book to you. It is truly remarkably good.

Charles

P.S. I have now read a lot more (bought it for Kindle to help me). My opinion remains unchanged.
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