The first volume of John Campbell's biography of Margaret Thatcher was described by Frank Johnson in the Daily Telegraph as 'much the best book yet written about Lady Thatcher'. That volume, The Grocer's Daughter, described Mrs Thatcher's childhood and early career up until the 1979 General Election which carried her into Downing Street.This second volume covers the wholeThe first volume of John Campbell's biography of Margaret Thatcher was described by Frank Johnson in the Daily Telegraph as 'much the best book yet written about Lady Thatcher'. That volume, The Grocer's Daughter, described Mrs Thatcher's childhood and early career up until the 1979 General Election which carried her into Downing Street.This second volume covers the whole eleven and a half years of her momentous premiership. Thirteen years after her removal from power, this is the first comprehensive and fully researched study of the Thatcher Government from its hesitant beginning to its dramatic end. Campbell draws on the mass of memoirs and diaries of Mrs Thatcher's colleagues, aides, advisers and rivals, as well as on original material from the Ronald Reagan archive, shedding fascinating new light on the Reagan-Thatcher 'special relationship', and on dozens of interviews.The Iron Lady will confirm John Campbell's Margaret Thatcher as one of the greatest political biographies of recent times....
|Title||:||Margaret Thatcher, Vol. 2: The Iron Lady|
|Number of Pages||:||944 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Margaret Thatcher, Vol. 2: The Iron Lady Reviews
Before coming to power, Margaret Thatcher paid a visit to Yugoslavia, where she had a meeting with President Tito. The conversation turned to China, where Chairman Mao's widow had recently been stirring up trouble for the leadership. Tito remarked that he disapproved of women interfering in politics. "I don't interfere in politics, " declared his guest, eyes ablazing, "I AM politics." Therein can be found both the secret of Margaret Thatcher's success and the seeds of her downfall. Her supreme confidence helped overcome widespread doubts that a woman could lead her party and her country, but in the end her arrogance alienated the very people she needed to retain power. Thatcher's story presents a unique challenge to political biographers, largely because her overpowering personality and strident views make a fair assessment difficult to achieve. The writer has to tread a fine line between hagiography and demolition job. Happily, John Campbell's book manages to avoid these pitfalls, and his account of Thatcher's life and times is even-handed, thorough and highly readable. The first volume of Campbell's biography -- The Grocer's Daughter -- covered Thatcher's early life and career, concluding with her arrival on the threshold of Number Ten. Margaret Thatcher, Volume II: The Iron Lady concentrates on her entire eleven-and-a-half years as mistress of Downing Street, as well as the aftermath of her removal from power. The first thing to say is that it's a huge read - over 800 pages. But this is no more than the subject deserves, given Thatcher's dominance, not only in her role as Prime Minister, but also as an inveterate meddler in the work of her ministers. From health and education to local government finance and foreign affairs, there was barely an aspect of policy which Margaret Thatcher did not seek to influence. All the important events of her premiership are there - the three election victories, the Falkands, Westland, the miners' strike, the Poll Tax, and her dramatic departure at the hands of her own party. But the book goes beyond the big stories to put her premiership in a wider context. Take housing: Campbell shows that Thatcher's policy of encouraging council tenants to buy their own homes, while prohibiting local authorities from building new houses with the proceeds, led to a massive shortage of affordable housing, and by extension to large numbers of homeless people on British streets. Campbell's thorough research shines brilliantly throughout the book, but many may find the depth of detail just too much information to take in. During some passages, even my eyes started to glaze over at so many references to obscure events and personalities from Britain's political past. Of greater interest are the sections covering Thatcher's dealings with Ronald Reagan. Thatcher apologists often claim that Britain's standing in the world grew taller as a result of her strong support for the U.S. President. But Campbell makes good use of Reagan's archival papers to reveal the true relationship of these political soul-mates. While they undoubtedly got on well, the President rarely let their friendship get in the way of his policy objectives. Thatcher believed they were working as partners to save the world from tyranny, but Reagan failed to consult her even on such important matters as the invasion of Grenada (a British Commonwealth territory) or his suggestion to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Reykjavik summit that the US and USSR should abolish all nuclear weapons. Even so, Thatcher never lost an opportunity to catch the presidential ear. Campbell recounts Reagan breaking off from one of her many telephone rants to observe: "Isn't she marvellous!" One of the most enjoyable sections of the book focuses on the burnishing of the Thatcher image, especially in the later years of her premiership. Campbell documents the change from the clothing of a "middle-class mimsy" to the power-shoulders of a leading lady, and her increasingly imperial airs. The regal touch was most memorably on show when she emerged from Number 10 to announce "We have become a grandmother." But the author also offers a reminder of her qualities as a consummate actress. In 1990 she delivered a conference speech in which she compared the new bird of freedom logo for the Liberal Democratic Party to the dead parrot from the Monty Python sketch. She had never seen the routine, but delivered it with perfect timing to laughter and cheers from her audience. The following month, she was an ex-Prime Minister. Margaret Thatcher's fall from power was pure political theatre, and those of us who watched it unfold on our television screens will never forget those dramatic days. The big question in my mind was: could Campbell's account rise to the occasion? The answer: a resounding yes. Every twist and turn of the spectacle is followed, without recourse to melodrama or purple prose, and what could easily have been a disappointing damp squib of a section turns out to be a fine account of a political career in meltdown. For me, the most intriguing part of the book describes Thatcher's life after leaving Number 10. Politically-speaking, she was dead in the water - there is no role in the British constitution for an unemployed prime minister. But Campbell is astute enough to highlight the human aspects of her new situation. Only days earlier, she was being feted by President Mitterrand at Versailles. Now, shorn of the Downing Street machine, she had difficulty even using the telephone to find a plumber. Thatcher's refusal to adapt to her new situation caused her successor much grief, and the book relates the despair which John Major felt at her off-stage sniping , especially when he was trying to rebuild bridges to Britain's European partners. Having already documented the lives of two former Prime Ministers -- David Lloyd George and Edward Heath -- Campbell is able to view the Thatcher years with a historical perspective. The conclusion of this book, however, is disappointing. A work of this magnitude deserves a resounding finale, but instead it runs into the sand, offering little more than a couple of pages to sum up Thatcher's impact. It's not a bad ending, but I feel that the author could have done justice to the rest of the book by bringing together more effectively the various strands of Thatcher's life. That said, The Iron Lady is a masterpiece of political biography, meticulously researched and written in an enviable style that both informs and entertains. It may be too soon to call it the definitive biography of Britain's first woman prime minister, but the next time an author sets out to write Margaret Thatcher's premiership, this is the first book they should open.
Easily the most comprehensive biography of any political/historical figure I've come across. Campbell gives an extraordinarily balanced view of MT, so regardless of your opinion of her you will be able to find evidence to back up your respective arguments. A bit long winded at times, as you can imagine with a 928 page book, with several sections only worth analyzing if you were doing a dissertation on the Thatcher years. That said, if you want to now anything and everything about Britain 1979-90, you need look no further than this...
This is an exhaustively researched book, but that's its only merit. The book told me a lot more about the author and his narrow viewpoint than it did about Mrs.Thatcher. Campbell didn't give me any real idea of how revolutionary the Iron Lady was. Instead the larger picture is bogged down in petty details (some of which are incorrect, I.e. Mrs. Thatcher did not object to a modern version of the Union Jack on the tail of British Airways planes but to the misguided use of ethnic symbols). The writer refuses to give Mrs. thatcher credit for any of the changes she brought about, but insists on attributing them to the fact that events just happened along which presented her with the opportunities. Even if this were true, Mrs. Thatcher seized opportunities that would have terrified any other politician. This book seems to be written for the old boy network which controlled British society until Mrs. Thatcher came along. The writer reflects the attitudes of that group by his use of derogatory words such as 'shrilled' 'scolded' to describe how Mrs .Thatcher spoke. Those are words used to describe witches in medieval times. Seems not much has changed despite Mrs.Thatcher.
I picked this book because I was interested in learning more about Lady Thatcher. Her story is pretty amazing but Campbell's attempt to tell it comes off as petty and sexist. He refuses to give her credit for any of her achievements (i..e Falklands War, reviving the economy, being the longest serving PM in the 20th century, etc.) and always mentions her gender. All I wanted was an engaging, unbiased look at her life and times (see Caro and Morris). Instead, the reader gets what borders on a partisan hack job. Unfortunate because Campbell is a decent writer.
Learned a lot from this. Kind of timely, reading about the Tories destroying Labour and dominating for 10 years (and Labour having to change significantly to get elected again). I wonder how long it will take for the Liberals to recover.
Probably the best and most comprehensive Thatcher biography. The author brings a healthy skepticism to his subject, yet never loses sight of the imperative to explain why Thatcher proved to be such an influential force.
I enjoyed this take very much!
Brilliantly written, giving an honest and ubiased review of Mrs Thatcher's years in power. An inspiring book of a British legend.
An interesting read, I now feel like I understand more about this era. It was slightly overly detailed for my liking and took a long time to get through, however overall I enjoyed it.