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Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning Hardcover – 23 Apr 2013
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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Sixteen years ago, Mrs Thatcher picked Moore to write her authorised biography, not to be published until after her death.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 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. The first volume of his biography of Margaret Thatcher, published in 2013, won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, the HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize and Political Book of the Year at the Paddy Power Political Book Awards.
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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.
It's huge, I was quite surprised anyone had found that much to write about Maggie. Quite heavy too, if you wanted to throw it at another person you could seriously hurt them. So don't throw it around, unless you want to of course.
I was hoping there would be more pictures, perhaps some secret ones of her doing the funky chicken dance in the cabinet or a flash of a leg stepping out of a bath.
It also opened my eyes to the reality of certain legends - the sale of council houses, big bang and the Falklands War are some - where the historical record was lost in the blur of events at the time and since. I'm not a big biography fan but this is an excellent read.
My favourite scene is at the end of the book when Maggie is the only woman present at a 10,000 banquet to thank servicemen for their contribution during the Falklands War - no wives could attend the dinner so they had to wait outside. Lady Thatcher stood up and sai d "Gentlemen, shall we join the Ladies" - priceless!