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The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer's Daughter to Prime Minister Paperback – Abridged, October 25, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Abridged edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780143120872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143120872
  • ASIN: 0143120875
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Anyone who really wants to know what happened between 1979 and 1990 should read this book."
(John Rentoul )

"Superbly researched...unlike so many others is neither hagiography nor hatchet-job, and probably gets closer to the truth than any...magnificently told."
(Michael Dobbs )

"The best book yet written about Lady Thatcher."
(Frank Johnson )

"An enormously useful achievement...every twist and turn of her political life is here."
(Matthew Paris )

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and indeed arguing with it, because it has reminded me why many of us would never have wanted her to give up."
(William Hague )

About the Author

John Campbell is a leading political biographer. His other books include Lloyd George, Pistols at Dawn: Two Hundred Years of Political Rivalry from Pitt and Fox to Blair and Brown, and Edward Heath, for which he won the NCR Book Award. He lives in England.

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Customer Reviews

This is a good book to read about the 1980's.
This book captures the essence of who and why Margaret Thatcher is such a monumental figure for the women.
kymberly jones
In that it jumps around and is repetitive; in the end somewhat difficult to follow.
Liberty Blacksmith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 82 people found the following review helpful By RSRS on January 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One reviewer said, "Superbly researched...neither a hagiography nor hatchet-job," and with that evaluation I wholeheartedly agree. Having lived through the Thatcher era, I kept up to some extent with what she was doing at the time, but since I'm a liberal, inevitably had a negative reaction to much of what she did. But this book throws much more light on her goals and methods than I'd previously been aware of. Not that I necessarily approve, but it was fascinating to see how her strong personality and view of life (and of the responsibilities of the individual) allowed her to hold sway in Great Britain for over a decade.

I wasn't previously aware of the extent to which the nationalization that occurred after World War II was reversed during the Thatcher era. I don't think of England as being a "socialist" country today (and don't consider that a negative condition in any case), but it's amazing how many trends were reversed during the Thatcher era and how she was able to convince the public that it was in their best interests to get the government out of their lives. Even though unemployment and inflation were high and social perks were being inexorably reduced, Margaret Thatcher prevailed and convinced the majority of voters that what she was doing was in their best interests. Probably the most telling aspect of this book, for me, was to recognize certain similarities between British and American political struggles, particularly in regard to what the U.S. is going through at the moment. The Brits have their knock-down, drag-out, liberal-conservative political fights just as we do. I'm not sure that's encouraging, but at least it doesn't make us look quite as outrageous as it sometimes seems.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By William L. Kershul on July 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
I suppose it is always a struggle to be objective when doing a review, especially since I am a big supporter of Margaret Thatcher. In any event, I found that book to be mostly interesting from the standpoint of revisting the history of the era, and Thatcher's influence on it, and history's influence on her.

The author did seem to interject a lot of opinion, that unless the reader is careful, it could be read as fact. To get a flavor of the author's opinion, one needs to read no further than the final paragraph of the book: "No doubt the world economy will recover...with Barack Obama's new Democrat administration in Washington in the lead."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Heinrick Ludwig von Mencken on June 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Given her enormous impact over eleven years it is fitting that there are so many books about Mrs. Thatcher. Among them books by Mrs. Thatcher. This one is not as well written as hers. It lacks her dry humor and sense of timing. It also glosses over some of the really interesting conflicts in her theories, her life and her personality.

What might be interesting would be a parallel biography of her and Disraeli. There are more similarities than just the superficial one of the outsider taking over and being the guiding light of the party of insiders for years. Like Disraeli, she was a radical reformer not just of small parts of the political system, but of the whole society.

Mrs Thatcher often stood for iron principles. Yet she at the same time behaved with with startling machiavellian expediency. She stood for a moral order, but as the author points out the amorality of her government in the realm of arms sales was appalling. She talked of hard work and discipline but her rise also showed the triumph of pure dumb luck. She talked of the importance of her father's dicipline in her upbringing, and how it molded her, but it is also interesting that in raising her own children she took the exact opposite path, which didn't do either of her kids any favors. There are so many interesting conflicts here that the author should have spent a lot more time on it. Even Mrs Thatcher in her own book dwells on some of the more interesting aspects with candor and at greater depth.
The problem with a political biography is that so much of it either goes into too much inter office infighting or too much into psychoanalys where the narrative suffers. This book near the end goes to much into the inter office wars, which is why she was dethroned.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Liberty Blacksmith on April 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
the Iron Lady
this is an abridgement of what originally was author Campbell's 2 volume, 1200 page work on Lady Thatcher. The abridgment (and presumably the editing) was done by David Freeman.

While the work is not an out-and-out hatchet job on Thatcher, relatively few of her policies are approved of by the writer, except for whole hearted approval of British crimes in Ireland. Campbell is apparently a British academic who does not appreciate the widely held America view that Margaret Thatcher saved the UK from sure economic self-destruction during her almost 12 year rule.

The book traces (quickly) Thatcher's early life, the influence of World War II on her world view and her dedication to free market economics which she grasped at an early age. She began her political career when Churchill was party leader and was a lifelong admirer of him.

First elected as a member of Parliament in 1959, by the time Thatcher was making her climb in the party in the 1970's, the Tory party had become a `socialist lite' party to Labor's outright socialism. Although disagreeing with the party line, she was minister for education and followed Heath's and the party's orders. In a surprise, after Heath lost the party leadership, she became the standard bearer.

The book does a realitively good job at cataloging the events during her political career, at times too bogged down in details and at other times unclear as to the subject at hand. For example, the controversy over the poll tax issue late in her prime ministership is related poorly, never truly explaining the British definition of `poll tax'. It was apparently some sort of head tax but not a poll tax as we on this side of the pond understand it.
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