This book made its way onto my bookshelf thanks to a thoughtful gift from my parents. I've always had an admiration of Thatcher, not because of any particular policy (admittedly I didn't know that much about her particular policies ie the success of mass privatisation and the failures of poll tax) but because of her evident strength, articulation, will, ideology and even to some extent, her appearance. The first female Prime Minister in the United Kingdom she was someone who, regardless of the side of the fence on which you sit, she made an immense impact on the way we live our lives today. We may not be able to pinpoint it directly, but her policies and her strength mattered and she came along at a time when Britain was on its knees. She entered the Premiership in a difficult situation, but she left the Premiership with the country in a much better position than it had been (even if, at the time, the country was back in economic turmoil).
I'm not going to get into a debate about why I think she mattered, because that is what this book does. Campbell presents a concise biography of Thatcher's time in power, covering all the major points of her premiership and providing a balanced, but sympathetic view to the Iron Lady. He talks about her relationship with her cabinet ministers and manages to explain quite clearly how the strong personality which made her first two terms so successful, ultimately led to her downfall in her third. The book was extremely well researched, constantly picking apart the memoirs of those in cabinet and correcting errors or claims made in them with the true facts. It doesn't glaze over the big controversies of Thatcher's tenure as PM even looking at the big corruption scandals which again led to her eventual removal from office.
The analysis of her relationships with other world leaders was also a very interesting aspect of the book. The Reagan / Thatcher relationship in particular shows how close these two on both a personal and professional level. They had an unflinching respect for each other, yet when Thatcher disagreed, she didn't make an exception for Reagan and step aside, Campbell manages to show quite clearly that when the Lady had a view, she would hold her ground simply until she won the argument. This did not mean that the was unmoveable. As Campbell displays in the book, Thatcher would merely argue as a way of informing her side, and although a lot of her colleagues found it both frightening and tiring, arguing with the Iron Lady simply managed to grant her more information on a particular argument.
A wonderful book that gives an immensely detailed account of both Thatcher as a person and Thatcher as a politician. Usually perceived as a cruel and uncaring woman by the mainstream press and even the younger generations, she is given a human dimension which we only really saw on that moment she was exited from Number 10. We are given a more colourful picture of "Maggie" with which any reader can gain the important information required to make an informed view on her. Some may read this and have their view that she was the worst thing to happen to this country reinforced. Others, like myself, may read this and have their admiration for her grow as you realise that she really was the best person for the job.
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