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Not for Turning: The Complete Life of Margaret Thatcher Paperback – 10 Apr 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi (10 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552155799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552155793
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The political biography of the decade" (Daily Mail)

"No-holds-barred, well-written... contains the most authoritative account of her life after leaving office... a dramatic account." (Philip Webster The Times)

"[a] lively and accessible insider's account" (Peter Clarke Financial Times)

"After all the eulogies, it is refreshing to read about an odd, driven, believable person – rather than some abstract national saviour or demon... Harris is like a long-faithful courtier freed by a monarch's death to speak the truth about them." (Andy Beckett Guardian)

"Remarkable... A vivid and concise study in adversity, triumph and treachery." (Daniel Johnson Standpoint)

"Readable and well-informed... detailed and fascinating" (Philip Ziegler Spectator)

"A pacy and entertaining book... well-sourced and packed with anecdotes. A first rate potted history." (Patrick O'Flynn Express)

"Irresistible reading ... the brilliance of Harris's gift for narrative has not deserted him." (Ferdinand Mount Times Literary Supplement)

"Excellent" (Andrew Gimson Conservative Home)

"Insightful and very readable. Its strength lies in its personal approach." (Jack Carrigan Catholic Herald)

Book Description

The complete life of Margaret Thatcher, written by a member of her inner circle

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written and informative account of the life Margaret Thatcher. The author, Robin Harris, who worked in the Cabinet office until Thatcher's defenestration in 1990, and who remained close to her in her retirement, including by drafting her memoirs,has clearly attempted to give an unbiased view. He does not shy away from critism of Thatcher's behaviour or at times of her policies or performance. For example he draws attention to her sometimes strident manner with colleagues, and is lukewarm at best about her perfomance as Education Secretary in the Heath government. John Major, Malcolm Rifkind and assorted other former colleagues are excoriated in these pages.

Overall all however, it is clear that the author held Margaret Thatcher in the highest regard, both as a person and as a leader who utterly changed the British politcal landscape.

Harris's personal political position tends to shine through at times - disapproval of the European Union,strong admiration for Ronald Reagan, approval of the actions taken by the USA in Greneda and many other events and personalities receive a little personal touch in the account...Neil Kinnock is usually found in sentences which also include the word 'unfortunately'

This, then, is a personal view of the life of Margaret Thatcher, which covers all the key events and players, and makes for entertaining and informative reading. The years after office receive good coverage, and there is enough information here to make clear the sad decline of her memory and faculties towards the end of her life, particularly after the death of her husband.

Well worth reading whatever your political views - Thatcher bestrode British politics for over a decade, and her policy legacy has lived on through every government since, and is likely to do so for some time yet
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As Lady Thatcher's letter on the back cover says - "I can think of no one better placed than you to tackle the subject".

Harris was Director of the Conservative Research Department before joining Mrs Thatcher's personal staff, writing speeches and advising on policy. After she left office he continued working for her, including drafting her two volume autobiography. He was a total insider - he knew her life, her politics and her thoughts as well as anyone who is still around to tell the tale.

Harris can write punchy, readable narrative which tells a good story, as anyone who reads his many newspaper articles can attest.

Harris got his doctorate in French history - you can tell the academic background because the facts look like they have been checked, there is a decent index and by the way he sticks to main subject and doesn't drift off into personal reminiscences or personal point scoring. In passing I notice that he doesn't even mention himself in the index - this is Margaret Thatcher's story all the way through.

Those that loved Margaret Thatcher will find a lot to like with this book. Having her whole life in one moderately sized volume will be a relief to anyone who wants the essence but not the finely wrought detail. Those that did not love Thatcher - and there are plenty of them - may still find it worth reading if they want to understand rather than condemn. After all, the British public voted for her in their millions, voted for her again and again, and they never voted her out of office.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit that at times I was making heavy weather of Robin Harris's biography of Margaret Thatcher : the middle chapters dealing with her premiership; the first part and the last in particular dealing with her decline were by contrast easy to digest and well written. I am not suggesting the rest wasn't but perhaps there were too many footnotes, with RH too concerned to capture the nuance of people's character, or ideas, or intent involving support for MT to make for comfortable or relaxed reading. Maybe that is the result of compression. Nevertheless this is more than a mere setting of the record straight, even though a lot of that seems to be going on.

Thatcherism, we are reminded, is all about self-reliance in a world where democracy and freedom are provided in a framework of law and order. If you have freedom, you cannot argue for equality, for it becomes one person's right to work more intelligently, or harder, than his neighbour and to enjoy the rewards of success. However creation, as far as possible, of equal opportunities so that a meritocratic society evolves was also part of her scheme, and this aspect dirives more from non-conformist Liberalism than high-Church Toryism. When MT came to power one of the first battles was with the Trades Unions as some of these were vaunting their monopolistic power and privileges. They drew the blanket too far to their side of the bed, endangering Sterling and/or British industrial competivity, and it fell to her to curb these powers and level the playing field for the future.

The author is none too kind to either Heath or Major in his assessment of their qualities of leadership; nor do her Chancellors of Exchequer, Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson, escape much better, effectively accused of plotting the downfall of their PM.
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