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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely biography of the Iron Lady, November 4, 2009
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This review is from: There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters (Hardcover)
Margaret Thatcher is one of the most iconic political figures of the 20th century. She was the first female head of government, and to this day all strong female politicians inevitably invoke the comparison with her. However, her fame and achievements go well beyond just being a symbolic first in women's ascension in public and professional life. The impact that she had on both the British domestic policy and the international relations at the end of Cold War are monumental and will be hard to eclipse any time soon by a politician of either gender. She continues to inspire all those who are opposed to tyranny in all of its forms and support free exercise of individual capabilities unconstrained by bloated governmental intrusions.

With this in mind, it is not surprising that there are plenty biographies of Madame Thatcher out there. There is enough information on her online to completely satisfy anyone's curiosity. And yet, Claire Berlinski manages to find a unique new angle and write a biography that is original and distinctive. She intersperses the narrative parts of the biography with numerous parts of interview with people who knew Margaret Thatcher well. She even quotes full dialogues from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" in the final chapter on Thatcher's downfall. This comes across a bit overly melodramatic, but nonetheless makes for an interesting read. Berlinski is also unashamed to use personal anecdotes and psychological evaluation of various protagonists of this biography, which can be viewed either as a bit self-indulgent or fresh and original. I tend to be more inclined towards the latter, but this may not sit too well with all readers.

The importance of Margaret Thatcher has only increased over the years. She was one of the main politicians that opposed and fought socialism in all of its forms. After the fall of Communism and more or less general adoption of the main aspects of her policy by most major European parties, it looked like the free-market ideas that she so passionately championed had become completely vindicated once and for all. Unfortunately, in the recent years we have been witnessing the resurgence of those ideas, and it is important now more than ever to be reminded of what sorry life Brittan had led under such policies. This book is a useful reminder of that and an inspiration for everyone for the way out of that predicament.
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Initial post: Apr 19, 2010 7:04:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 19, 2010 7:11:50 PM PDT
Historied says:
Margaret Thatcher: first female head of government: ever heard of Golda Meir or Indira Gandhi? Both pre-dated Margaret Thatcher in the role of head of state. Interestingly all three fought wars. Hmm: Margaret Thatcher 'fought socialism in all its forms': for the record, the proportion of government spending in GDP went up during her rule from 42.08% in 1979 to 44.54% in 1980, so the 'bloat' continued. And I don't recall her repealing such 'socialist' programs as the NHS, free schooling, the military (often overlooked as an essentially 'socialist' provision of security for all), unemployment insurance, old age pensions or any other major feature of the welfare state, which to the best of my knowledge she supported, at least in principle. She was not foolish or an ideologue. Her free market ideas were unfortunately largely played out in the financial sector, which has proved itself adept at destroying value on a massive scale, rather than funding productive investment. Her ideas would have been more use, actually applied to value-add sectors of the economy, where some improved competitiveness would have been welcome. Instead via exchange rate errors, squandering North Sea oil revenue, and failure to invest in productive infrastructure improvements such as road and rail, she started the destruction of manufacturing that was continued by her spiritual heir Tony Blair. Ideological views of history tend to over-simplify (as no doubt I have done above) and distort...and prevent us really learning from experience, and for example making banking boring again, rather than humming Von Hayekian melodies about 'freedom'.
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