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Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning [Format Kindle]

Charles Moore
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The woman Prime Minister who flew into what The Times called a ‘lavish, colourful ceremony of the kind not seen in the American capital for the past four years’ had a packed schedule, but was also careful to make the right impression.* Her office set aside forty minutes each day for hairdressing (with rollers), and submitted her personal details in preparation for receiving an honorary degree at Georgetown University: ‘Height 5'4";** Weight 10.5 stone; Coat 14 English; Hat size 7’. In the White House, Reagan welcomed her, declaring, ‘we share laws and literature, blood, and moral fibre’, and she responded, ‘The message I have brought across the Atlantic is that we, in Britain, stand with you. America’s successes will be our successes. Your problems will be our problems, and when you look for friends we will be there.’ The private reception was equally warm, which encouraged Mrs Thatcher to be frank. In his diary, Reagan recorded: ‘We had a private meeting in Oval office. she [sic] is as firm as ever re the Soviets and for reduction of govt. Expressed regret that she tried to reduce govt. spending a step at a time & was defeated in each attempt. Said she should have done it our way – an entire package – all or nothing.’

But not everyone in the Reagan administration was willing to be as supportive as the President. On the same day, Don Regan testified before a Congressional committee. Mrs Thatcher, Regan said, had failed to control the money supply, produced ‘an explosive inflationary surge’ by her pay increases to public employees and kept taxes too high, which ‘provides little incentive to get the economy started again’. ‘She failed’, he added, ‘in the effort to control the foreign exchange market and the pound is so high in value that it ruined their export trade.’ Here was a clear effort to distance the administration’s policy from the perceived mistakes associated with Margaret Thatcher. Such perceptions were commonplace in US media reports throughout the visit.*** Regan then left Capitol Hill to hurry over to the British Embassy for lunch with Mrs Thatcher. 

She did not react unfavourably, but publicly praised President Reagan, giving a sanitized version of what she had told him privately: his attack on expenditure was ‘the one thing which I could have wished that we had been even more successful at’. Reagan recorded in his diary that Mrs Thatcher ‘Went up to the hill [Capitol Hill] and was literally an advocate for our ec. program. Some of the Sen’s. tried to give her a bad time. She put them down firmly & with typical British courtesy.’

As far as issues of substance went, the visit was fairly thin. Mrs Thatcher was a little worried by the administration’s obsession with Central America, when she felt more attention should be paid to the East-West relationship. She and Reagan did, however, discuss the Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev’s speech of 23 February in which he had called for an international summit and a moratorium on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) in Europe, and they agreed on a cautious response. More important, for both sides, was the need for éclat, for the dramatization of the ‘meeting of minds’ of which Dick Allen had written. The state dinner for Mrs Thatcher at the White House gave Reagan’s people the chance to show the difference their President made:

“The Reaganauts were determined to throw off the grungy, downtrodden look of the Carter Administration . . . Some of the Carter people used to walk about the White House in bare feet. As soon as Reagan came in, out went the memos banning jeans, banning sandals and requiring everyone to wear a suit. ‘Glamour’ was a word often used, and ‘class’ too. The Reagan people thus planned the Thatcher dinner as a white tie affair. It was going to be infused with Hollywood glamour and would show the world how classy the Reagan people were.”

Mrs Thatcher, however, asked the White House if the dinner could be black tie, since ‘some of her people would not have the requisite clothing’. She had another concern too: ‘she was the grocer’s daughter. She didn’t want to come over here dressed up like that. It was an impoverished time in Britain after all.’ Black tie was agreed, but the dinner was still grand enough in all conscience.

Then there was the return match. Taking advantage of the Reagan team’s inexperience, Nicko Henderson had got Dick Allen to promise that the President would come to the customary reciprocal dinner at the British Embassy the following night. This was in violation of the existing convention that only the Vice-President attended these return dinners, but the Reagan team did not know this. By the time they had realized their mistake and tried to get out of it, Henderson had sent out the invitations. Reagan came with a good grace.**** In her speech that night, Mrs Thatcher added her own passage to Henderson’s draft, words about the ‘two o’clock in the morning courage’ which leaders have to have when faced with lonely decisions. This greatly pleased Reagan, who replied that she herself had already shown such courage ‘on too many occasions to name’. ‘Truly a warm & beautiful occasion,’ Reagan wrote in his diary. The only disappointment for Mrs Thatcher was that the Reagans left without dancing to the band. After they had departed, Henderson invited her on to the floor: ‘Mrs T accepted my offer without complication or inhibition, and, once we were well launched on the floor, confessed to me that that was what she had been wanting to do all evening. She loved dancing, something, so I found out, she did extremely well.’129 She was most reluctant to go to bed, threatening a different sort of ‘two o’clock courage’ by going off to see the floodlit Washington monuments, ‘but Denis put his foot down, crying, “bed”.’ On her last night in America, after a rapturous reception for a speech in New York, Mrs Thatcher gathered with Denis, Henderson and aides in her suite in the Waldorf before taking the plane home. ‘Mrs T was still in a state of euphoria from the applause she had received which was indeed very loud and genuine and burst out: “You know we all ought to go dancing again” . . . Denis’ foot came down heavily.’
Both sides rejoiced at the visit. ‘It was a great success,’ Henderson remembered. ‘They saw completely eye to eye.’ ‘We needed a crowbar to pull them apart,’ remarked Reagan’s press secretary, Jim Brady. ‘I believe a real friendship exists between the P.M. her family & us,’ Reagan commented. The essence of this friendship was simple and effective. They believed the same things, and they both wanted to work actively to bring them about. ‘I have full confidence in the President,’ Mrs Thatcher scribbled at the bottom of a thank-you note to Henderson. ‘I believe he will do things he wants to do – and he won’t give up.’ They also had compatible, though utterly different, temperaments – he the relaxed, almost lazy generalist who charmed everyone with his easygoing ways, she the hyperactive, zealous, intensely knowledgeable leader, who injected energy into all her doings but also displayed what Reagan considered to be the elegance of a typical, gracious English lady. They shared a moral outlook on the world and also, in their emphasis on formality, dressing smartly and being what Americans call classy, a sort of aesthetic. The personal chemistry was undeniable. ‘He treated her in a very courteous and sort of slightly flirtatious way, to which she responded,’ recalled Robin Butler. It turned out that they would often disagree about tactics, and that his more optimistic and her less sunny view of the possibilities of a non-nuclear future would lead to problems, but their basic personal trust and sense of common purpose never failed.

Yet, for all her enthusiasm and affection for the leader of the free world, Mrs Thatcher was not blind to his limitations. Lord Carrington recalled their meeting on the first day:

“After the arrival ceremony we went into the Oval Office and I remember Reagan saying: ‘Well of course, the South Africans are whites and they fought for us during the war. The blacks are black and are Communists.’ I think even Margaret thought this was rather a simplification . . . She came out and she turned to me and, pointing at her head, she said, ‘Peter, there’s nothing there.’ That wasn’t exactly true, because there was something there and she no doubt didn’t really mean that.”

Mrs Thatcher came to realize that Reagan’s strengths and mental abilities were very different from her own, but she never lost her underlying admiration for him. To the typed letter of thanks she sent him, she added, in her own hand: ‘We shall never have a happier visit.’138 She felt she had a powerful friend. She knew that he would help in the economic and political struggles ahead. Her pleasure and gratitude were genuine.



* Mrs Thatcher’s nervousness before the ceremony is indicated by the row she began at Blair House, the official guest house where she and her party were staying. She fiercely attacked Lord Carrington for what she called ‘your policy in the Middle East’, which she considered dangerous in its attempt at a rapprochement with the Palestine Liberation Organization, adding, ‘I’ll lose my seat at Finchley.’ By his own account, her Foreign Secretary said, ‘And I’ll lose my temper,’ and went out, slamming the door (interview with Lord Carrington). Clive Whitmore hurriedly scribbled a note to Mrs Thatcher which said, ‘This place is bugged.’ She then drew a circle in the air with her finger to indicate bugging. (Interview with Sir Clive Whitmore.)

** Mrs Thatcher sometimes gave her height as 5 foot 4 inches, and sometimes as 5 foot 5 inches.

*** ‘A new verb has entered the Washington lexicon,’ declared the New York Times. ‘It is said to be possible to “Thatcherize” an economy. The verb is not precisely defined, but many see it as a bad thing to do. Since “Thatcherization” bears a conservative label, some people fear that our new conservative President will lead us down the same disagreeable path.’ (New York Times, 1 Mar. 1981.)

**** Although Henderson’s manoeuvring annoyed the sticklers for protocol, Allen and others realized that the President’s attendance at this return dinner (and others) could have its advantages. This would be one way, suggested an NSC memo, to ‘underscore the substantive importance’ Reagan placed on US relations with key allies, and signal a break with the discord in the transatlantic alliance seen in the recent past. (Rentschler to Tyson, ‘Thatcher Visit and Related Thoughts’, 26 Jan. 1981, 5. Official Working Visit of Prime Minister Thatcher of United Kingdom 02/26/1981 (1 of 8), Box 4, Charles Tyson Files, Reagan Library.)

Revue de presse

Moore has produced a biography so masterly ... that it comes as close as biography can come to being a work of art (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

Moore's great gift is his ability to make Thatcher's story fresh again, and above all to remind us of how odd she was ... the access to her family and friends enabled Moore to produce a multifaceted picture of a compelling life ... [this] will now become the definitive account (Anne Applebaum Daily Telegraph)

Intricate, elegant and laced with dry humour (Andrew Rawnsley Observer)

Outstandingly good (A.N. Wilson Evening Standard)

Détails sur le produit

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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A thoroughly good read 28 juin 2013
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
My son gave this to his father for Father's Day and he has been enjoying reading it. It is well written and gives you a very good view on her life.
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0 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 ... Thatcher = horreurrrrrrrrrr! 16 juin 2013
... Que peut-on dire ou écrire sur cette vieille ordure? Elle vient de passer "l'arme à gauche " faisant pipi et caca dans sa culotte : la stricte vérité... Je me souviens des saloperies qu'elle a faites en Angleterre. Le système public a été mis en pièces mettant des millions de gens sur le trottoir. Tommy Sands est mort des suites de sa grève de la faim face à l'intransigeance de ce monstre de femme. L'inutile guerre des Malouines où des êtres humains ont été tués. Pour conclure, sa mort fait du bien mais cela aurait encore mieux si la grande faucheuse l'avait dégagée il y a une décennie...
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  60 commentaires
58 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 EPIC BIOGRAPHY! 24 mai 2013
Par 30YRVET - Publié sur Amazon.com
Nearly 20 years of interviews and research have produced a masterpiece! Charles Moore has produced an epic biography of Margaret Thatcher that is sure to be a classic. I have not read through it all thoroughly, but what I have read proved to be immensely readable, full of previously undisclosed details and opinions about the Iron Lady, and perhaps the best biography I have ever read.

Moore weaves biography, history, politics, psychology and sociology together in such a way that one cannot help but to be educated on a myriad of topics while reading this book. Much of what I remember about Thatcher while I was a teen and young adult had so much back-story revealed to me that I found myself more aware of Lady Thatcher, but also about British politics, American politics, political and historical figures, and world events of those times. Reading this book is an education.

One theme I picked up on here, as I have in reading about other great leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and many others is that their personalities are not typical. They are literally different than most of us. Margaret Thatcher was a "mule," to use a description from the book. She worked extraordinarily hard her whole life. It is not enough to have dreams, ideas, or philosophies. The greats among us have the drive and energy to turn vision into action, and leave a lasting legacy. Margaret Thatcher developed her political philosophy during the course of her life and married that philosophy to her incredible energy to become a political force and renowned politician and leader.

This book is over 800 pages, with extensive footnotes, hundreds of sources, and a delight to read. You will know far more about Margaret Thatcher as a person, and as an iconic leader, after reading this. You will also know more about what the people who knew her remember and thought of her, and that is very interesting too. Definitely worth the time it takes to read, and definitely worth 5 stars!
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent First Volume 23 juin 2013
Par David I. Williams - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Margaret Thatcher was an amazing political leader. In her own lifetime she was both admired and reviled by many. Even on the occasion of her death the responses could be quite loud. Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands is the first volume in a two volume biography of the Iron Lady by author Charles Moore. Moore spent many years working on this project. Lady Thatcher gave him access to her own material and encouraged others to talk to him. The only stipulation was that the book be published after her death. Moore is quite thorough in his work. He covers Thatcher's life in great detail. He also covers her personality. This is not an attempt to canonize the subject. Thatcher is shown to be stubborn, difficult, and at times even a bit abusive of her colleagues. Moore points out her many weaknesses as well as her strengths. The overall image is not flattering, but it does show a very human Thatcher, something that we do not see very often when she is portrayed.

Thatcher's father made a great impression on her early life. He was a storekeeper and a lay Methodist minister. Many of her strongest beliefs were instilled by her father at a early age. This included a strong work ethic and a strong desire to help those in need. For all of her critics claim to the contrary her greatest desire was always to look after the working men and women in England. Whenever she looked at a bill she tended to look at it like a housewife examining an item on the family budget. She disliked inflation because she felt that it wiped out the hard earned savings of industrious workers. She fought hard to sell off government owned housing to the people who lived in the housing.

Moore tells us a lot about her early life. Thatcher was always very closed about her personal life, always referring to discuss policy more than her own past. Moore shows that Denis was not the first man that she dated, something that she always claimed. We see that she was often so focused on her own life and career that she at times neglected other members of her family like her sister and her parents. We also see Margaret the snappy dresser. It is sometimes hard to remember that great people that we see in middle age were once teenagers. Thatcher loved to shop for clothes and had a particular passion for hats. From the time she was young she seemed to be destined to break down barrier. In the "old boy" world of education and politics she took second place to no one. Moore recounts the story of a headmaster congratulating the young Margaret on her luck at winning a prize in school. She responded that it wasn't luck, she had worked hard for the award.

Early on in politics she was added to the Shadow Cabinet in a traditional "woman's position." She worked through that and soon showed the boys how to run a government. Neither the Labour leadership nor the Conservative leadership ever knew what to do with this upstart middle class woman who didn't seem to know her place in the system.

Readers not familiar with the British system of government (where the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are all elected members of Parliament) it will seem amazing that from the beginning Thatcher had to fight not only with the opposing Labour party, but with members of her own cabinet. Many in her cabinet considered her as nothing more than a fluke and wanted to remove her from power so that they would be able to resume the game of politics as normal. That was not to happen. At least not for a long time.

This book is very detailed and has extensive notes and sources. In fact if there is any criticism it would be that it is too detailed. For a person who loves the minutiae of policy making this book would be wonderful. For those looking for a general biography they may find it to be a little cumbersome in the shear amount of detail given. One other observation. Most Americans know very little about the English education system or the English system of government. This book is written by an English author who assumes that everyone understands these topics. Perhaps a glossary or an appendix explaining these systems would have been useful in the American edition.

These slight criticisms aside the book is well written and fascinating. If you want to learn about one of the most important and fascinating political figures of the twentieth century then pick up this book.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 EPIC! 24 mai 2013
Par 30YRVET - Publié sur Amazon.com
Charles Moore's epic biography of Margaret Thatcher is sure to become a classic. More than 800 pages in length, utilizing hundreds of sources, this work took almost 20 years for publication. Now that the Iron Lady has passed away, Moore published this extraordinary biography which is the most candid and complete available.

Margaret Thatcher, like nearly all great personalities and leaders, possessed incredible drive and passion. Hundreds of interviews and thousands of government and personal historical documents confirm that Thatcher had drive and passion, and combined with her belief in traditional values, was able to become a force in British politics and world affairs. Most interesting to me was her capacity to work. She was always focused on her goals, and looking forward to whatever needed to be done next. Many, even most of her associates, underestimated her abilities. She was not particularly charismatic or socially skilled, but was able to work with others to accomplish much of what she wanted to do at each stage of her life.

The juicy details of her personal life are intriguing of course, but the insights of her family, friends, and associates is what really sets this work apart. The personal and government documents used as sources are many, but other well-written biographies utilize libraries full of documentation too. Less common, and more interesting to me, is the vast number of people interviewed for this work. They are often very candid, and not always in a flattering way. Moore expertly weaves the personal and historical together in such a way as to present the most thorough biography possible. Of course, not all recollections are factually accurate, but Moore points out any inconsistancies by Thatcher or others. I feel the author handled his work in an admiring but fair manner.

Charles Moore has written what I hope will become a best-seller and contemporary classic. Margaret Thatcher is a worthy subject of such a lengthy biography, and her life and accomplishments deserve this extensive examination. This is easily a 5-Star book!
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Meticulously researched and beautifully written 15 septembre 2013
Par Colin Rainier - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This is not "Margaret Thatcher for Dummies" - a catch-up on the essentials of a world figure. It is a vast work suitable for those who lived through or studied the 70s and 80s in Britain and are still puzzled by outcomes (grammar schools, Rhodesia) over which she presided which were clearly at odds with her beliefs. Moore provides all the fine detail and context required to understand these apparent anomalies. Importantly, although he clearly admires his subject, he admires the truth more and spares nothing in exposing episodes (such as so, so nearly selling out the Falkland Islanders) which are air-brushed from the autobiography. Sadly, the degree of scholarship applied means that we shall probably have some years to wait for the second volume.

My only complaint regards Moore's pedantic peppering of direct quotations with the annotation "(sic)". It's an unnecessary distraction (if something is presented in quotes then I shall assume that it is verbatim and make my own assessment of the intent and grammatical skill of the speaker). Above all, if Moore is that pedantic then he (or his editor) cannot afford to commence his List of Illustrations with "Margaret Robert's...(sic)"
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The Iron Lady 5 août 2013
Par jem - Publié sur Amazon.com
The first volume of Moore's authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher is reminiscent of Robert Caro's research and detail as biographer of Lyndon Johnson. Whatever one thinks of Thatcher's political philosophy, she certainly earned a place in history as a British Prime Minister worth remembering.

The blessing of an authorized biography is access to interviews and correspondence with family, friends, and professional colleagues. As a London journalist during Thatcher's service in Parliament, Moore had notes from many personal interviews and access to newspaper archives. This volume is strengthened by Margaret's correspondence with her sister Muriel, her closest confident during her formative years at Oxford, finding a life partner, and beginning a political career.

The danger of an authorized biography is biased admiration for one's subject. Although clearly an admirer of Thatcher's political skills, Moore walks an objective line that good journalists strive for. He cites her successes and failures and analyzes both. His analysis of the barriers she broke as a woman in politics is particularly strong. He describes her ability to be tough but thoroughly feminine by paying intense detail to her personal appearance, marrying above her lower-middle-class childhood, and being the mother of twins. He quotes many excerpts from speeches that exhibit her famous wit that softened the threat when challenging an opponent's position.

Moore is a British journalist writing for his countrymen, not Americans, but it can be frustrating to stop and search the meaning of a term such as Margaret complaining to her sister about her weight being slightly more than 10 stone (140 lbs.) I also found it somewhat irritating that every time a member of Parliament is mentioned for the first time, a footnote indicates not only the district he or she represents but his or her public (private) school and university college. This evidently conveys essential information about their status to politicians and citizens having business with members of parliament but it offends my American sensibility to be constantly reminded of class.
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