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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Lady
"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...
Published on May 6, 2006 by Elijah Chingosho

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review from someone who read the ENTIRE book
I am a huge fan of Margaret Thatcher. I admire her conviction, her courage, and above all, her policies. I find her to be a riveting public speaker and, as a television and radio programme interviewee, she never fails to hold my complete attention. Given my respect and admiration of her, it is very difficult for me to speak critically of her memoir. But I feel I have...
Published on August 15, 2012 by M. Yakiwchuk


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Lady, May 6, 2006
"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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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daunting, but worth the effort., January 17, 2008
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. Thatcher was the Churchill of her time - she was instrumental in using real leadership skills to help hold together an alliance against aggressive dictatorships. The combination of her leadership with that of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Mikhail Gorbachev - the first Soviet leader who seemed to genuinely have good intentions, despite his continuing belief in communism - was a major factor in bringing about the end of the Cold War. I believe that as time goes by, Mrs. Thatcher will only be more vindicated, both for her contributions to the West's Cold War victory, and for starting the process of revitalizing Britain. (A former professor of mine who specialized in modern Britain and was - of course - a dedicated left-winger always gave Mrs. Thatcher a lot of credit for making some tough decisions that had positive long-term effects on the British economy; in fact, my professor even said that the prosperity Britain enjoyed in the `90s probably had more to do with Thatcher than with Blair. Coming from a leftist, that's saying something!)

Yes, this book is biased and one-sided; Mrs. Thatcher, atypically for a European leader, speaks (and writes) in a very straightforward, tell-it-like-it-is, here's-what-I-think-and-why-I'm-right fashion. (She almost seems like an American, with a habit like that!) But remember, these are memoirs. Memoirs, especially by former political leaders, are ALWAYS biased; they're not meant to be objective. Instead, they're meant to be one person's account, one person's case. If you keep that in mind, this is a very good book - huge and dense, perhaps, but worth the effort if the subject matter interests you.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lover her or hate her, she was UNIQUE, August 28, 2001
This first volume of memoirs by Margaret Thatcher frankly recalls the former British prime minister's dealings with U.S. presidents, the Falkland War, and her election victories in 1979, 1983 and 1987. She also details the back-stabbing and eye-gouging that the British call politics. It may be a little less corrupt than politics in some other countries I could name, but it sure ain't an arena for the feint of heart. There were never any gray areas with Thatcher. The British either worshipped the ground she walked on, or detested her every word. There was nothing in the middle, because Thatcher was not given to taken the middle course. 'There's nothing I like more than a lively discussion' she would say. What she meant, of course, was that she loved a damn good arguement! This first part of her autobiography is as outspoken as she was. She pulls no punches, and her unequivocal opinions about world events she participated in and world leaders she encountered leave you wondering how she survived eleven years as Britain's Prime Minister. But would we expect anything else from Thatcher as she explains and defends her controversial policies, which caused the dismemberment of socialism and Britain's resurgence as a world power after many years of liberal misrule.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No rust on the Iron Lady, April 29, 2012
This review is from: Downing Street Years (Paperback)
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. She saw the writing on the wall, and after having won the first ballot for party leadership but not by a sufficient majority to avoid a second ballot, she resigned in favour of John Major (whose autobiography, recently issued, is also well worth reading, particularly for his comments about how Thatcher tried to maintain a controlling influence over him from behind the office).

You might be tempted, if you're not really into politics and not reading this for scholarly purposes, to skim over various minor issues that are gone into great detail. Historians are appreciative, but I seriously ask myself how many non-political scientists and historians will read through all the detail of what are now minor bits of history?

In all, a brilliant career, the first woman head of government in a major Western democracy, and well worth reading on the whole.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars long and solid, August 27, 2001
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If you're interested in how a strong-willed conservative would deal with an ingrained socialist government (not to mention society), give this tome a look-see. Very well written, brutally honest, with just enough of Lady Thatcher's dry Brit humor to spice things up. As another reviewer has pointed out, though, if you're American and unfamiliar with certain British lingo, be prepared to scratch your head on occasion. Favorite quote from the book: "It was not long before the conversation turned from trivialities-- for which neither Mr. Gorbachev nor I had any taste-- to a vigorous two-way debate. In a sense, the argument has continued ever since and is taken up whenever we meet; and as it goes to the heart of what politics is really about, I wouldn't have it any other way>"
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite long, but well worth it, July 20, 2000
Lady Thatcher gives very detailed insights into her eleven years as the British prime minister. It seems like she covers everything that happened in those eleven years in her political life, she is 100 percent a politician. However, she doesn't give out any details about how her marriage with Denis must have been influenced by her incredible workload. She has written a very detailed account of her years in power, and it takes quite a while for those interested to swallow the 800+ pages. It is well worth it though, because it is often very interesting and Lady Thatcher has quite a sense of humour. I recommend this to everybody who has any interest in British or international politics in the 1980s.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No rust on the Iron Lady, May 27, 2003
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. She saw the writing on the wall, and after having won the first ballot for party leadership but not by a sufficient majority to avoid a second ballot, she resigned in favour of John Major (whose autobiography, recently issued, is also well worth reading, particularly for his comments about how Thatcher tried to maintain a controlling influence over him from behind the office).
You might be tempted, if you're not really into politics and not reading this for scholarly purposes, to skim over various minor issues that are gone into great detail. Historians are appreciative, but I seriously ask myself how many non-political scientists and historians will read through all the detail of what are now minor bits of history?
In all, a brilliant career, the first woman head of government in a major Western democracy, and well worth reading on the whole.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Margeret, March 20, 2012
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No rust on the Iron Lady, January 17, 2012
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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. She saw the writing on the wall, and after having won the first ballot for party leadership but not by a sufficient majority to avoid a second ballot, she resigned in favour of John Major (whose autobiography, recently issued, is also well worth reading, particularly for his comments about how Thatcher tried to maintain a controlling influence over him from behind the office).

You might be tempted, if you're not really into politics and not reading this for scholarly purposes, to skim over various minor issues that are gone into great detail. Historians are appreciative, but I seriously ask myself how many non-political scientists and historians will read through all the detail of what are now minor bits of history?

In all, a brilliant career, the first woman head of government in a major Western democracy, and well worth reading on the whole.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the time., March 16, 2004
By 
Debra Switzer (Theodore, Alabama United States) - See all my reviews
Highly interesting and exhaustively detailed first-hand account of the first female UK premier. In the 1980s, Britain could arguably be defined by three things: Diana, Pop music, and Margaret Thatcher-- it is refreshing to see the least showy of the three recall her memoirs. Although the Iron Lady's sometime turbulent relationship with the Queen is hardly ever mentioned. In fact, Her Majesty barely appears at all...in that case, you will have to consult a biography for her infamous debacle with the Queen over the Commonwealth. Still, highly recommended...even if you need to take it's mammoth size in small doses. A great read.
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The Downing Street Years
The Downing Street Years by Margaret Thatcher (Hardcover - Oct. 1993)
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