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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Politics- not social History- but thats ok, 27 Aug 2011
This review is from: Thatcher's Britain: The Politics and Social Upheaval of the 1980s (Paperback)
Richard Vinen might have regretted the title of his book since this book has little on the social History of the 1980s (for that read the excellent Rejoice! Rejoice! by Alwyn Turner) and little or nothing on the culture of the 80s. However, with that caveat recorded this is a smart and savvy discussion of Thatchers political journey; of the origins of Thatcherism. Vinen sets out to write a political history that avoids the vitriol and high emotions that Thatchers name inevitably generates. He wants to write for a generation with no personal memories of the 1980s. His aim at a dispassionate view of the Thatcher era is perhaps useful since its easy to be overwhelmed by the 'damage' done by the Thatcher era and the scars left (even today) by her policies.
He is particuarly strong on influences (very interesting for example on Enoch Powell and Powellism) and very good
at describing,Thatchers reliance on advisors and political expediency to drive policy. He does give her due credit for managing to become a Tory candidate in the male dominated party and in managing to become leader. The text is very good on providing a balanced discussion of different aspects of her rule including an interesting take on the traditional view that 1979 marked the end of consensus and also, interesting points about her lack of ideology at times. This book needs to be read alongside other books
but will provide a useful counterbalance to any obvious polemics. He provides a good chapter on sources and is brave enough to admit that some judgements could already be out of date. I think it goes alongside Thatcher & Sons by Simon Jenkins ( a book Vinen seems to have little time for) and the previously mentioned book by Alwyn Turner.
This book is purely political- but this isn't a bad thing. However, the title could be misleading. Overall, well worth a read.
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