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There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters Paperback – November 8, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"(Claire) Berlinski shows commitment and energy as an author, beside an ability to wheedle great men into telling her things they might not have vouchsafed to anybody else... Her encounters with Neil Kinnock are tactical masterpieces, where she draws the Welsh windbag out and then deflates his woolly thinking with as much cool, perhaps cruel, precision as Thatcher herself did." Scotland on Sunday "often entertaining and sometimes illuminating... Berlinski's assessment of Lady Thatcher's economic record is balanced. She does not take at face value the claim that Lady Thatcher single-handedly reversed Britain's economic and geopolitical decline - and says she is 'not sure that it has been permanently reversed.' This turns out to be a wise caveat in the current climate, which she was unaware of while writing... There will be many books on Lady Thatcher this year, the 30th anniversary of her coming to power. (There is No Alternative) is an idiosyncratic and interesting contribution." The Financial Times" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Claire Berlinski received her doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. She has since worked as a journalist and freelance writer throughout Asia and Europe. Her previous books include two novels, Loose Lips and Lion Eyes, and the nonfiction work Menace in Europe. She lives in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Second Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465031218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465031214
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Claire Berlinski is a freelance investigative journalist, travel writer, biographer, and novelist who lives in Istanbul. She is the author of Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's, Too, and There is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters, which Newt Gingrich said "every American should read" and Theodore Darymple described as "about as powerful a defense of Thatcher's record as is likely ever to be written."

Her journalism has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, First Post, theOxford International Review, The American, Asia Times, the Globe and Mail, the New York Sun, the Weekly Standard, National Review, Policy Review, Penthouse, Radio Free Europe, World Affairs Journal, Azure, Traveler's Tales, Travel & Leisure, and Arabies Trends. She is also the author of two spy novels and a frequent guest on local and international radio talk shows.

Since receiving a degree in Modern History and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University, she has lived and worked in Britain, Thailand, Laos, France, and Turkey.

She devotes her spare time to rescuing stray animals, studying the martial arts, and sharing hand-to-hand combat tips on the Internet.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Berlinski has written an excellent biography of one of the 20th Century's most important and intriguing political figures. She focuses on five main themes: the struggles of Great Britain in the 1970's prior to her election; the Falklands' conflict; Thatcher's relationship with (male) politicians; the miner's strike and her political downfall. The author uses transcripts of interviews she conducted with former cabinet officials, advisors and political adversaries of Mrs. Thatcher. The book is also footnoted, so that the reader can get more information from the sources used.

Not only were there interviews with politicians and government officials, but there were also interviews with people affected by Mrs. Thatcher's policies. For example, the author interviews wealthy Britons in the banking and restaurant businesses who have profited greatly from England's economic resurgence. Moreover, she interviews three former coal miners who lost their job when Thatcher defeated the union and basically ended Britain's inefficient coal industry.

From this biography, I was able to understand why Thatcher matters. She resurrected the pride of Great Britain, which had struggled with socialism, strikes and inefficiency for decades. Britain's economy is now the largest in Europe. Moreover, she restored Britain's standing in the world by reclaiming the Falkland Islands and along with the US, helping to defeat communism.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Berlinski portrays Thatcher as a warrior against socialism who attacked the ideology not because it "doesn't work" but because it is fundamentally immoral.

The book is mostly a collection of interviews with Thatcher's defenders and detractors with the author's commentary interspersed throughout the transcripts. Through these interviews, the reader is given a pretty good idea of why Thatcher is still so intensely loved and hated even now, almost 20 years after she left office.

Berlinski has an amusing, first-person writing style replete with pop culture references that sometimes seem out of place in a biography of a historical figure, but on the whole, makes the work very readable.
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I read this book because I admired Ms. Thatcher from afar but didn't know much about her. I'm facing difficult decisions now, and I thought Thatcher's story would inspire me. It did. It's clear from her writing and from her interviews on YouTube that Berlinsky has some similarities to her subject. She aspires to be a decisive, forceful woman. She is duly fascinated with herself and doesn't cover that up. Berlinsky's enthusiasm for Thatcher's politics lends energy to the writing, and she seems to have done thorough research generally, but with at least one glaring exception. I'll get to that shortly.

The book delivered on my hopes. Powerful quotes punctuate, some from Berlinski herself, such as, "Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, insisting that contrary to all appearance and belief, the Soviet Union ws not only weak but mortally vulnerable. Because he was right, it's often forgotten that this point of view at the time marked him as a lunatic."

You don't have revolutions for fun, they're very uncomfortable, very unpleasant, a lot of people get hurt, and --You shall have a war. It's going to be very unpleasant, and we're going to be hated, and the better the things we do, the more hated we will be. . . We're not likely to bring it off. But if we do, she will be a historic figure. ... . She's actually realizing that something terrible has got to be done.--John Hoskyns

A well thought-out scare campaign is a must. --Nigel Lawson

I offer two criticisms of the book. First, Berlinski makes at least one historical claim that is highly questionable. She writes that in the late 1970s, unburied corpses were piled high in the streets of Britain. I know people who lived in the country then. I ran searches on the internet. No one corroborates this claim.
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The title somewhat confused me when the book initially came out in 2008. I failed to sense the impending worldwide crisis now threatening the economies of the Western World. It is now two years later---and Claire Berlinski has turned me into a total convert. Margaret Thatcher clearly understood the benefits of the free market. She realized that any compromise with members of the Labor Party or the squishy moderates within her own party hurts the British citizenry. The woman was not for bending. Thatcher committed herself to achieving her goals regardless of the costs. She would push aside and irritate in countless other ways anyone who got in her way. Thatcher was not known for always being gentle. Winston Churchill was a wartime prime minister. He never got to serve during peacetime. Thatcher is therefore the role model for today's challenges.

The author interviewed individuals who were not hesitant in revealing Thatcher as a strong willed lady that may have even occasionally rubbed them the wrong way. France's Francois Mitterrand even described her as "Brigitte Bardot with Caligula's eyes." She was also born and raised in modest middle class surroundings---and the elites never forgave her. One is also readily reminded of the friction between the American Sarah Palin and her big government Republican detractors. Mrs. Thatcher worked closely together with President Ronald Reagan to defeat the Soviet Union. This same sort of focus and vision is currently needed to combat Islamic extremism. Claire Berlinski has successfully made her case. The title of the book says it all. Margaret Thatcher still matters and there is no alternative. Great Britain is experiencing an existential crisis that may destroy its democratic institutions. Can it find another Thatcher before it is too late?
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