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The Downing Street Years Hardcover – October, 1993

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fans of Britain's first woman prime minister may have already purchased this fact-filled but ultimately self-serving memoir. Key events of Thatcher's 11-year reign--the alliance with Reagan, the Falklands/Malvinas War, the 1984-1985 miners' strike, conflict within the European Community, and so on--are described in exhaustive detail. There is little attempt to provide a balanced or subtle portrait of a controversial administration. Although, for the most part, the book's prose style is rather pedantic, Thatcher's unique personality nevertheless shines through. The gist of her approach is conveyed in the chapter titles--"The World Turned Right Side Up," "Disarming the Left," "No Time To Go Wobbly." Yet even Thatcher's harshest critics will find this book informative and revealing. The book contains over 50 photographs, some in color. A second volume, devoted to her life prior to the 1979 election that brought her to No. 10 Downing Street, is promised. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/93.
- Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The Iron Lady tells all. Well, not exactly all; her memoirs reveal little of her personal life and, chronologically, cover only those years during which she was prime minister. Her book has already caused a stir in the U.K. and will be read with great enthusiasm on this side of the Atlantic not only by people involved in government, but also by general readers keen on foreign affairs. The first woman prime minister of Britain was never known for sugarcoating, and her remembrance of her 11-year tenure at No. 10 Downing Street is defined not only by its wealth of details about her activities as head of the government, but also by her unequivocal opinions about world-important events she participated in and history-changing individuals she encountered. Would we expect anything else but outspokenness from Thatcher as she reviews, analyzes, explains, and defends her policies and procedures, domestic and foreign, during her controversial presiding over Britain's disestablishment of socialism and resurgence as a world power? Highlights of her recollections include her comments on the Falklands War ("The significance . . . was enormous, both for Britain's self-confidence and for [its] standing in the world") and the reunification of Germany ("Germany is . . . by its very nature a destabilizing rather than a stabilizing force in Europe"). One has to admire her for her honesty, integrity, and stick-to-her-guns attitude. Brad Hooper

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (October 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060170565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060170561
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Elijah Chingosho on May 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Downing Street Years" is an interesting, informative, enlightening and fascinating account of Margaret Thatcher as the Prime Minister of Great Britain for 11 years. Lady Thatcher was clearly a brilliant politician with a sharp intellect who has left an enduring legacy and indelible mark in British and world politics. Readers can get an insight on how she made certain decisions.

My political views are very different from hers but I greatly admire her achievements for Britain. She had the courage, perseverance and decisiveness to stand up for her beliefs and not just to please some people. Her rise to power in a male dominated society and Conservative Party is nothing short of remarkable. Things to her were in clear black or white, no grey areas, which generated either intense loyalty or deep seated dislike of the lady. She was truly an "Iron Lady".

In her memoirs, the reader will learn how she dealt with various significant events during her tenure in office such as the Falklands War, the USSR, the Miners Strike, and the privatization of nationalized industries, her encounters and opinions on various world leaders as well as how she won three elections (1979, 1983 and 1987). Her close friendship with Ronald Reagan played a significant role in the collapse of the USSR. She also reveals the challenges she often encountered in politics including betrayals and dealing with government officials steeped in bureaucracy.

This is excellent reading for executives and politicians of all political persuasions.
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Format: Paperback
Mrs. Thatcher's memoirs of her decade-plus as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom are a very illuminating look at the 1980s, which were perhaps the most critical decade for Britain - and the rest of the Western world - since the Second World War. This is a massive, 800-plus page tome. But if you're interested in recent British history, or in the 1980s or the late Cold War, this book will reward your time and effort. Mrs. Thatcher may have been controversial - loved by many and hated by nearly as many - but one thing you can't accuse her of is failure to lead.

All of the important events of her tenure as PM are covered. Some of it is tedious - such as minute details about tax policies, for example. (Though these do, however, illustrate Mrs. Thatcher's impressive ability to understand the complexities of important issues.) But the wonderful thing about this book is that it's organized simultaneously chronologically and topically, which means you can skip over parts you're not interested in and go ahead to something else. (I admit I did this more than once.)

I particularly liked the parts dealing with the Falkland Islands War and those dealing with the Cold War. In the case of the former, I've read several military accounts of the conflict, but Mrs. Thatcher's detailed chronicling of the diplomatic aspects added greatly to my understanding of it. It was amazing how much the US, in the form of Secretary of State Al Haig, meddled in it to try to achieve "compromise," despite the fact that Argentina was clearly the aggressor.

The parts on the last phases of the Cold War were the strongest parts of the book. It's neat to get an insider's account of all the personalities and the diplomatic wrangling. Mrs.
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I didn't like her at all when I was young (and ignorant). Well not to worry. We are all ignorant compared to our later years. I have learned to appreciate her opinions, her actions and her spirit. Her courage is incomparable. Her fight against the spread of the socialist plague will be a huge point in her favour for the rest of time. She fought for the free market and for the equal chances of those willing to fight for their own future. Once again... Good old Margeret. That movie did her no justice at all. This book is Margeret at her best. She talks with incredible clarity about the events in which she was able to shine. And shine she did. Yes, the book is long. There are so many stories to tell in this great career that you can pick and choose what you want to read about. Later as you become interested in Another earth shattering historical event of the seventies and eighties, you have the Thatcher account of what went on. This book is great. It has kept me busy for a long time. I didn't read it cover to cover in one shot. I kept going back to it. Thatcher will never be boring. I can always say that I lived through the Thatcher years, that I saw her drive past, that I reviewed her book. If you are not one of these individuals, already pre-contaminated against her, this book is a great presentation of 1980's politics. I really like it.
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This book is one of the most interesting political autobiographies I have read (and I've read many of them). I must confess that interest was intensified due to the fact that I worked in the House of Commons during her tenure in office, and indeed worked during the 1987 General Election for two Conservative Members of Parliament (David Amess of Basildon and David Evennett of Erith & Crayford--yes, I know, you've never heard of either of them).
This is actually the first volume of Margaret Thatcher's books to be published; the prequel is 'The Path to Power' and there is a follow-up, 'The Collected Speeches', but for those interested, 'The Downing Street Years' is the book to have.

It begins with the 1979 General Election, and carries forward to her resignation as Prime Minister a decade later. In this volume are her perspectives on all the various Cabinet intrigues, shuffles and reshuffles; her attempts to find civil servants and other helpers who were not of the old guard but of a new mentality, often asking, 'Is he one of us?' by which she meant, not is he a Conservative, but rather, will he get something accomplished, is he a do-er?

Thatcher's perspectives on the various scandals and inter-Cabinet fighting makes for interesting reading -- she is candid in her likes and dislikes among her Cabinet colleagues. Her final row with Geoffrey Howe, who delivered a scathing speech in the HoC that mostly prompted the leadership crisis, is enlightening. (I've not seen his version, if one exists--it would be good to compare the two sides.) She was very disappointed at the end when she thought she had the continued support of the party, but each of her ministers and 'friends' told her in turn that while he supported her, others would not.
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