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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Iron Lady - Book Review


It has taken me more than a year to get around to writing my first ever blog book review.

You all should know that I love Margaret Thatcher.

So imagine my joy when I received a book on The Iron Lady at Christmas before last.


I do not actually remember the last time that I read a book, certainly not a 555 page book that goes deep into political analysis – my busy life tends to mean that I don’t have time for much more than The Economist and Mixmag, but 6 months of unemployment certainly gave me the time to do so during January 2012, and I read it with some vigour – part wanting to know more about the great woman but also wanting to fill in the gaps in the knowledge of my political history.

Of course, being a huge fan of Maggie, I wanted to hear much more about how great a woman she was, though I was aware that the book was supposed to be a balanced insight into her life and workings, so I was expecting to read about her flaws too.  If even someone like me has the odd flaw, then surely my dearest Maggie did too.

However the book didn’t quite balance as I expected it would.  For the first part, it described her rather staid and Christian upbringing, and the courageous battle she took on to get to the top of her party.  It made her out to be an even more magnificent woman than I ever dared imagine.  Then slowly but surely and eventually rapidly and repeatedly, the author took swipe after swipe at her character, enough to make Ken Livingstone and Arthur Scargill smile.

It also showed how close we came on a few occasions to losing one of the best leaders this country has ever had; she overcame adversity so many times, not only politically and economically, but coming back from an IRA assassination attempt on her life.

I think I now have to admit that she wasn’t perfect.  She was quite cruel sometimes, and she was often unable to compromise.  Loyalty was often temporary.  A good leader that makes though?

Yet if you can see past the character swipes, and also a few arguably dubious decisions like selling arms to Iraq then you realise not only what a transformation to the country she made – economically for sure as the sick man of Europe was turned into a worldwide powerhouse, but also politically – she thought Tony Blair of more of a Tory than John Major.  That was her true victory against socialism.

Not only that, one also realised that she had an even more important role to play in the ending of the Cold War than I previously imagined.

It is a really good book, a bit annoying at times but I guess you have to give the socialists a little comfort in defeat.  Well worth the read but very in depth and rather political so an understanding of such subjects would be of benefit otherwise you just wouldn’t get through it.

Next up for review is the Boris Johnson book I got this Christmas.  Expect the review sometime after he has been Prime Minister.