Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality

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Overview

A strong and sometimes divisive figure in British and world politics, Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister in the 20th century and the only woman to ever hold the office. Drawing from an abundance of new, previously unpublished material from the Thatcher Archive at Churchill College, Cambridge, Jonathan Aitken’s fresh and original biography is a lively and perceptive exploration of the personality that dominated conservative British politics for more than 10 years and her profound and ...

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Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality

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Overview

A strong and sometimes divisive figure in British and world politics, Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister in the 20th century and the only woman to ever hold the office. Drawing from an abundance of new, previously unpublished material from the Thatcher Archive at Churchill College, Cambridge, Jonathan Aitken’s fresh and original biography is a lively and perceptive exploration of the personality that dominated conservative British politics for more than 10 years and her profound and worldwide impact on the historical tapestry of her time. At once positive and critical in its assessment of her governance, Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality is crafted from the author’s longtime personal relationship with his subject, his eyewitness account of public and private episodes in her life, and more than 100 interviews with the former Prime Minister’s political colleagues and close personal friends. Penetrating and insightful, it chronicles one of the most remarkable political lives of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A] thoroughly insightful and compelling look at a remarkable world figure.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-05
An admiring biography of the Iron Lady by a former "Tory back-bencher" who played a role in her government. Admiring it is, but Aitken's (Pride and Perjury: An Autobiography, 2003, etc.) life of Margaret Thatcher (1925–2013) is not entirely uncritical, even if he finds reasons to excuse behavior that left "bullied colleagues, derided officials, ignored communities and neglected family members" in its wake. Thatcher, writes the author, was ambitious from the very start, running into trouble with a headmistress for having had the upstart hubris to declare that she was aiming for a career in the Indian Foreign Service, since it was a fast track to political fame back home. Alas for Thatcher, India got away from Britain before she could hitch her wagon to it, and so she had to slog it out with the rest of the back bench. Mainly, Aitken writes with the exquisite carefulness of the true believer: "Although Denis's proposal was accepted by Margaret with the full consent of her parents, the engagement was kept secret for another five weeks for political reasons." Those political reasons, it seems, were so profound that they occasioned this doubly passive construction. In the tightest of controversies, Aitken accords Thatcher some responsibility for bad faith but places more on others: Breaking the unions in the early 1980s was mostly the fault of militant union leaders, even if Thatcher could have done better; the Falklands War was mostly the fault of the Argentines, even if her "stubbornness…and her inexperience in foreign affairs" had something to do with the mess. But mostly, Aitken is deferential and even a little star-struck, especially in the presence of Ronald Reagan, he of "good looks, good humour and good conservative views." More than serviceable, but best for readers of conservative views themselves. Others will want to turn to more critical commentators.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620403426
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 784
  • Sales rank: 297,175
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Aitken, a former Member of Parliament and cabinet minister, is the author of 12 books, including his award-winning biography of President Richard Nixon. His recent titles include Pride and Perjury and Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan. He lives in London.

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