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on 12 August 2017
Very interesting read. It's structured mostly around the 3 goverment periods and within each period it is broken down by area, like Europe, internal policies, campaining, relationships in cabinet, international relations etc. Great book. Her other book with her time before Downing Street and the years after is also intetesting.

Would be good for younger people to read this book to avoid a repetition of the 70s Britain.
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I am by no means a supporter of Margaret Thatcher, but as someone with a keen interest in politics, how could I ignore her? She was a political giant and a truly remarkable woman. 'The Path to Power' was published in 1995, after her first, and far superior volume of memoir: 'The Downing Street Years', which covered her time as the first female Prime Minister of no.10 Downing Street.

In 'The Path to Power', Thatcher reflects on the early years of her life, when she was plain little Margaret Roberts, the daughter of a grocer who was also a former mayor for the town where she enjoyed her seemingly wonderful childhood, Grantham. She writes about how these days were to influence her political career and strong beliefs, before moving onto her years at college, education at Oxford university, her days as a chemist, and then as a lawyer. Later on, we read about her role in politics right up to the events which led to her history making election as the first women Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She also explains to a satisfying degree, the formation of the principles that became Thatcherism, and this was particularly insightful, and interesting to read.

'The Path to Power' wasn't a bad read overall , but it is a long, heavy book (like it's best-selling predecessor 'The Downing Street Years', but nowhere near as interesting), and really only one of the devoted Thatcher fan most likely. I admit that I found it a struggle to get through, but learnt a lot from it. The book is illustrated with vintage black and white photographs, including a nice one of her and Denis on their wedding day.
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on 27 April 2013
This is an abridged version of two books combined - 'The Downing Street Years' and 'The Path To Power'. - below is a quote that explains why it has been re-released in this way -

Martin Redfern, Editorial Director of HarperPress, said: "For the autobiography, we have condensed the memoirs down to some of the most fascinating times, and arranged it chronologically... It is a long time since they first appeared, and it was her wish that this book should come out following her death, that it would be a testament to her."

For me, this is a version of two books that has made the material far more appealing and accessible than it had been in its predeceasing volumes. I'm not a Thatcherite myself, nor am I anti-Thatcher, but having got involved in numerous discussions about her, since her death, so in the interests of gaining further insight, this somewhat more condensed version of events, found in this book, in her own words, has been great to read.

I can't draw a comparison between this and the original releases, as I don't know what has been omitted, however, at 700 pages, this was far less daunting a task than the 1,300+ paged alternatives would have been.
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on 19 September 2015
Margaret Thatcher's 'The Downing Street Years' is, in my estimation, one of the greatest political memoirs of all time. The book satisfies all the basic criteria: it is well-written, informative and thorough. Thatcher doesn't necessarily go in for critical self-analysis, but on the other hand this is a conviction politician who entered office with a definite and clear purpose and a coherent programmic theoretical framework. Her passion is palpable and it is obvious that she really did want to change Britain, for the better. Personally, I do not on the whole sympathise with Thatcher's politics, but I must hail 'The Downing Street Years' as a literate and well-crafted memoir, the type of book that a graduate chemist and barrister is well-qualified to write. And you can tell she really did write this: the prose is missionary, trenchant and punchy.

The book is organised thematically. This has become a modern fashion which few political biographies veer from, though in my opinion it often works out badly. But not for Thatcher, who manages to pull it off well and the book just flows. The chapter headings are entertaining, at turns witty, prescient and amusing. I think the highlights are the sections on the Falklands War, the crisis that could (perhaps should) have brought her down early ['The Falklands War: Follow The Fleet' and 'The Falklands: Victory]; the Westland Affair, a relatively trivial Cabinet tussle trumped-up into a minor constitutional crisis that almost did lead to her resignation [pp. 423-437]; the Miners' Strike ['Mr. Scargill's Insurrection']; later relations with the then-European Community ['The Babel Express']; and her eventual resignation in the midst of a leadership challenge ['Men In Lifeboats']. There are also some great colour pictorial sections interleaving the book, and the index is thorough and helpful. Some reviewers seem to think that the book is too long. I have to confess, this point never before occurred to me. If anything, I should have thought the book could have been much longer, and I for one would not have minded in the slightest.

What else to say? Well, I suppose a useful exercise would be to compare this highly-literate memoir with the inferior products being churned-out today. An honourable exception would be John Major's, which stands up very well, but the others are poor, especially Blair's half-literate, jumbled mess of a book. I think this drop in literary standards among political biographies tells us something about the material we propel into public life now. Speaking as one of the generational group that sociologists call 'Thatcher's Children', you could say I am one of her 'wayward sons': I could wax lyrical about my points of disagreement with Thatcher's politics. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge her superior intellect and observe that it would be unmatched were she around today. This is not some kind of neo-oldfogeyism. Lots of things have improved since the 1980s, but we have also regressed in many areas. The debates that took place in Parliament in Thatcher's era and before were much more thoughtful and literate than those of today. In a sense, Thatcher belongs to a divisive but more colourful and principled era of politics, and it is no coincidence that most of the interesting figures in politics today on both the Left and Right emerged from, or were touched-by, the Thatcher years. A sad and unfortunate paradox is that it was Thatcher herself who presaged the decline and brought us the awful persiflage of Blairism: she began the media management techniques that would later coarsen British politics and introduce the boring, drippy, compliant personalities who get "elected" today.

Perhaps one issue that might irritate the politically-literate reader of this book is Thatcher's quite shameless revisionism over Europe. She doesn't exactly hide her role in selling-out Parliament to Brussels, but she does not really take proper responsibility for it either, preferring to blame shadowy forces and pressures for her own cowardly decisions. Those in favour of Europe as an integrated political concept will be inclined to disagree with Thatcher's rather Manichean attitudes to the project (without realising, perhaps, how pro-European she once was, even as Prime Minister). Those against Europe will feel frustrated that she said so much on the issue but did so little to preserve Britain's sovereignty during a crucial period of the Community's evolution. In fact, Margaret Thatcher practically signed-away parliamentary sovereignty in her first few years as Prime Minister, continuing a political movement that would eventually (under Major-Blair) leave our Parliament bereft and purposeless. She signed the treaty that created the European Single Market and her government pushed the Single European Act through Parliament ruthlessly. Lest we also forget that earlier in her career, under the Heath premiership, she was one of the most vocal Tory Cabinet ministers campaigning for Britain's entry into what was then called the European Economic Community, something that probably made her cringe later. In short, if Margaret Thatcher was a Eurosceptic, then she was a pretty tepid one. And she was certainly no Nationalist.

Her supposed 'regrets' about Europe and increasing Euroscepticism towards the end of her premiership are part of the mythology of Thatcher: the Iron Dream, if you like. The myths do harbour some truth - she probably really did regret it all - but I think the real story is that when Thatcher started baiting 'Europeans', she was just being an astute politician. She was keenly aware that most Britons - certainly most of the English - are disinclined towards the notion of a federal Europe as they value our island identity. Furthermore, the southern English - more conservative than the social-democratic northern English - see Europe as a Continental 'social' project. Having apparently rejected Butskellism herself and shifted the Conservative Party to the Right (supposedly), it was a natural progression for Thatcher to come to reject Europe, at least conceptually. At first, though, she saw no need to do so. With large majorities, she could govern Platonically on the overarching issues such as Europe, without popular ratification of her unpopular decisions. But as the Tory Party declined in popularity and it became clear that her premiership was threatened, she adopted Euroscepticism not as a through-going rejection of Europe, but as a strategic ruse. Had she survived in office, the Labour Party would have been painted as pro-European and Quisling by the tabloid press and that would have formed the basis of a Tory general election campaign in 1991/92. It is true that as part of the War generation, Thatcher understood that Europe was, ontologically, a Continental project and, essentially, an extension of German power over Europe that earlier Germans had been unable to achieve militarily, but I am not convinced she was completely genuine in her concerns over the submergence of British sovereignty and identity: she had already given away more of those than any prime minister in the Nation's history.

In a sense, Thatcher wrote this book to contribute to her own mythology. The way the book is written projects her as a kind of heroinic persona. Even the book cover is almost Stalinist in its subliminal appeal to the cult of personality, but this Iron Dream that Thatcher was a kind of modern Boadicea who stood up to Europe before being deposed by a group of Quislings is false. She was just another chiseler, albeit one with a bit more principle and scruple toward the end.
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on 18 July 2014
She admits causing the winter of discontent by preaching free collective bargaining in 1978. Margaret admits to no boyfriends before Denis. Jonathan Aitken's book 'Power and Personality' shows this was not so. She asks the reader to believe she did not know what a 2 finger gesture meant. The last part of the book sheds no light on what happened to her after she left No 10. She thought single women got pregnant so they would be housed by the council. She would not debate with the PM in the 1979 campaign because she was afraid she might make a mistake.
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on 4 March 2015
I gave it 5 stars, because it's Magaret's OWN book. I sure could have read many other books but I want to see Things from her point of view. It is about 800 pages long and normally I read one book at the time, but in this case I won't. because it's so long. But, i bought the book of plain curiosity, and I DO adore Maggie's stubborness and strength, which says a lot about integrity. Well - I DO agree her reluctance to privatize the Royal Mail is justified, but still time will only tell if privatizing Railways, mines etc done still good, despite our disagreement(most people)...This book is not emotional. Many facts in it, and she explains her own convictions, and this could only be done in this book. Worth Reading! Even just to get to know who she was, and what set of beliefs made her try and change the society the way she tried.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 September 2014
This is an important book for anybody willing to understand Margaret Thatcher and her achievements. I am quite glad that I bought and read it and I enjoyed it - with the exception of two chapters (see below) - even if some fragments needed some effort to get through. Also the size of this opus reminds of a diplodocus (sorry for that, I couldn't resist). I certainly learned a lot from it and when closing this book I was very impressed.

Before going further, for sake of full disclosure, yes, I am a right-winged conservative and therefore, even if I am not British (I am Polish) and never even lived in United Kingdom, I always greatly admired and respected Margaret Thatcher. Even more, I consider her, together with Ronald Reagan, as one of only two really admirable major political figures of western democracies in those last 50 years or so - in fact, the only really visionary, able and courageous statesmen ("hommes d'état") in the West since Churchill and Truman. I had to say it to make it clear that as far as I am concerned this book was preaching to the choir - and therefore I am not entirely objective in my review...

As I already mentioned, I greatly enjoyed reading most of this book. The style is of course that of a political autobiography written relatively soon after leaving the office, therefore Margaret Thatcher had to use some restraint, both in what she could reveal and in the language used. Some basic knowledge of British politics and international problems in the 80s will greatly help in understanding and enjoying this book. Some reading between lines is also necessary here and there, especially in the whole chapter about Northern Ireland and fight against IRA and INLA terror - here it is quite obvious for me that author had to leave A LOT of things unsaid...

The dry, low-key, first-person narrated and quite frequently sarcastic writing style takes a moment to get used to, but once we catch the rhythm, it actually has its charm. I think also that, British reserve notwithstanding, Margaret Thatcher bared a lot of her soul here - and this allows us to understand her better.

Particularly strong moments of the book concern the electoral campaigns in 1983 and 1987, great miners' strike, Falkland War and relations with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Being Polish I also liked a lot the four pages description of the official visit Margaret Thatcher made in Poland in 1988, when my country was still under the boot of a communist dictatorship. A particularly good and poignant moment was the description of the last - and ultimately lost - fight Margaret Thatcher had to wage against her own party.

The two chapters with which I had a problem, were "A little local difficulty" (about poll tax fight) and "Floaters and fixers" (about monetary policy). In the case of the former, I found the narration of this story very disappointing, as Margaret Thatcher clung stubbornly to her position - when even for her great admirer and rabid conservative (and proud of it) like me it was clear from the beginning, that this thing was unfair, morally wrong and politically suicidal. Margaret Thatcher was extremely stubborn in her fights and I believe she was right to be so in all of them - except that one... Well, "quem Deus veult perdere, dementat prius" and in this case, the great mind of this exceptional woman was, for once, evidently clouded by what one has to call a form of madness - and clearly this condition remained with her even long after the whole thing was over... Well, I guess after all she was a human being like the rest of us - all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding...

The reason why I didn't enjoy the chapter about monetary policy is more personal, very subjective and a little bit embarrassing for me... Maybe it is because I am the child of an economist and married to another one (the reason why my wife manages our finances), but, well, for me large parts of economical science always were and still are a completely hermetic mystery and therefore I couldn't understand one darn word from "Floaters and fixers" - so I ultimately gave up and skipped it. Shame on me...

Although a huge admirer of this exceptional woman, I found myself disagreeing a couple of times with Margaret Thatcher positions - especially about the vision of European construction. Of course, coming from Poland, a smaller and poorer country than United Kingdom, I am naturally more inclined to see the virtues of a stronger and more tightly linked European Union. However, already in the 80s it was clear that even mighty and wealthy Great Britain couldn't maintain its rank in a world in which existed such economic mega-powers like USA and Japan and in which future giants, like China, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria were already rising. Ultimately, a 63 million people country simply CANNOT compete with 150-200 million people nations - not even talking about behemoths like China or India... For me, even in the 80s it was already clear that if Europe wants to remain wealthy and mighty, it will achieve it only by uniting - not by scattering... Being myself something of a Polish nationalist I am not exactly in love with the idea of an European confederation (and even less a federation) - but reason tells me that sometimes "everything must be changed so everything remains the same"... It will always surprise me no end that with such a great mind Margaret Thatcher couldn't overpower with reason the veto of her heart...

Those reserves notwithstanding I really loved this book and I found myself in agreement with Margaret Thatcher over most of things - and I am really darn glad that she won so many of her battles, that she transformed United Kingdom from the "sick man of Europe" into one of economic powerhouses of our continent and above anything else that for eleven years with her mighty voice she said loud and clear so many blunt, uncomfortable truths, which lesser men and women took great pains to hide, by sheer cowardice... She was a great lady, a great Prime Minister and her achievements were immense - and for all those reasons her memories are really, REALLY, worth reading. ENJOY!
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I would first like to say that I am not a fan of the late Margaret Thatcher, I disagreed with plenty of the things that she did during her time as prime minister. However, as someone with a keen interest in politics, I couldn't resist this book. Even if you didn't like her, this is a very interesting read.

'The Autobiography' is an abridged version of Margaret's two volumes of memoir, 'The Downing Street Years' (orginially published in 1993) and 'The Path To Power' (1995). I had already read the first book, so bought it primarily for the second one which focuses on her childhood and early years in politics before she became the UK's first female Prime Minister. Although I found it interesting, the second half is ultimately far superior and was worth reading for a second time.

I can see why Thatcher had decided to publish her books in reverse order. The public would definitely have been more interested in reading about her time at No.10 and for the publishers, it would have sold more copies. However, it is far better to have the story in order and for the reader to be able to follow Thatcher's life from birth to leaving Downing Street. The final chapters of the book make for very dramatic reading and finish the volume off to a satisfying end.

Despite it being abridged, all of the key moments, events, issues, exchanges and disagreements are all still included. For people wanting to have a first hand account of Thatcher's life - this must surely still be the definitive account. The whole book is very self serving (which is what you would probably expect anyway), but it is also very well written, frank and quite honest.

Whilst I would never had voted for Margaret Thatcher, I do respect the fact that she was a very intelligent woman, a great leader, public speaker and had the strength to carry out her convictions. Even though she's dead, love her or loathe her, Margaret Thatcher will be remembered (for both good and bad) forever.

For those of you who are very keen, you can also buy a CD of the woman herself reading the book: Margaret Thatcher: The Autobiography.
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on 13 May 2013
A surprisingly good read. I bought the book as a companion to Charles Moore's authorised biography and it's interesting to get Thatcher's own take on her life. You can hear her voice in every page. The book finishes in 1990 but then I suppose it was downhill for her after then anyway... I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what made the Iron Lady tick.
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on 18 November 2005
Thatcher intermingles in-depth policy discussions with informative accounts of her relationships with other MP's and associates in this interesting account of her years as Prime Minister. With Thatcher leading a revived Tory party conservative policies are given an authority that they did not always have with Heath or Major (though to be fair, their periods in office were somewhat different.) Persuasiveness matched with occasional flashes of keen insight characterize this book's better moments. What she truly did well is here - a crusader against the Soviet Bloc, moderating union power, and privitizing nationalized industry. Explanations of these and other issues are intertwined among a broad spectrum of historical narrative.

Margaret whipped some unnecessarily bureaucratic mindsets into line, and more streamlined governing was the result - one interesting proof of that shift can be seen after Blair came to power; he moved the labour party right, abandoning several of His parties far left ideas which Thatcher's successes discredited.

Margaret generally made good headway during her tour as PM, but she never really had absolutely clear sailing - we are given several glimpses of what seems to be a rotating set of her own MP's displeased with some aspect of her leadership. Its a sad and fast paced accounting that Mrs. Thatcher gives of her final period days in Number 10. We would all hurry through our embarrassing moments, but to her credit she lingers long enough to give the story - of her Downing Street Years - a proper and not-so-happy ending. Her words just before the final vote - "I fight on, I fight to win," - I remember well.

Some will perhaps underestimate Thatchers ultimate influence. This work is a good, though not perfect, reminder of that influence and history. It is interesting to read of her late night debates with Gorbachev at Number 10, Husband Dennis' advice, her relationship with Mr. Reagan, speech preparation and policy "white papers", and her rotating inner-circle. As I have mentioned in another review ("Path to Power") it is a bit sad to read of several of her Tory MP confidants falling out of her favor. One is given view's of a variety of policy battles in "Path," while there tends to be more expression given to policy formulation and refinement in "Downing Street". All the narrative on her travels and relations with foreign leaders has its place, but it never seems to overshadow her most effective role as policy maker and communicator. In "The Downing Street Years," Mrs. Thatcher extends that role in a thought provoking and memorable way.
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