This is a well-written and insightful early biography of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first woman Prime Minister. It traces her life from early days in the small town of Grantham, Oxford University science degree, up to her resounding popular re-election for a second term as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in 1983. As such it has stood the test of the succeeding decades very well. The authors are senior journalists with The Times and have managed to pack many colorful factual details and insider's insights into a balanced and sensible assessment of her life to that date.
The authors chart her career as an industrial chemist, a barrister, and early parliamentary progress, which was as steady as it was impressive. The major surprises (to her, as to us all) are not shirked, such as her election as party leader while in opposition. Neither are all the successes simply credited to her, as the country's demographics and attitudes to the economy and to union strike-anarchy are also recorded, culminating in the fiscal intervention of the IMF in 1977, closely followed by the grim 'Winter of Discontent'. The superficial 'Iron Lady' image is investigated and she emerges as a warm and generous person, of tremendous dedication and sterling conviction, and a worthy leader with many heroic qualities.
There are chapters on her controversial monetarist policy, (fashionable as 'Reaganomics' at the time), and her skilful handling of the fight for the British Falkland Islands which were invaded by Argentina. Her second term from 1983 allowed her reform and revitalize British industry in the next few years, with the able help of such stalwarts as Sir Ian MacGregor, a Scottish-American businessman and industrialist, whose exciting autobiography (spanning both sides of the Atlantic) is told in 'The Enemies Within'--the title itself being an apt Thatcher quotation--and it makes a dramatic sequel to this book. The appendix contains her historic speech to the 1968 party conference, containing useful analyses of party politics, democracy, the welfare state, and the economy--of much value and clearly informing British policy to this day. A living legacy and an inspiration to mixed economy democracy the world over.
This report prepared by Michael JR Jose