Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography; From Grantham to the Falklands
By Charles Moore
Knopf, 2013, 896 pp.
Engaging and informative from start to finish, the first part of Moore’s two-volume biography of Margaret Thatcher recounts and transcends well-known themes and anecdotes about the small-town grocer’s daughter who rose to become the leader of the British Conservative Party, prime minister of the United Kingdom, and a politician whose convictions and temperament earned her the nickname the Iron Lady. Myriad details, from her early romances to her relationships with senior colleagues, illuminate the complexity and contradictions of this clever scientist turned politician from a lower-middle-class background: her nervousness at meeting the queen of England; her disdain for the affectations of the upper classes, which did not diminish her fierce desire to join them; and her surprising tendency to defer to experts and bow to pragmatism. Along the way, Moore skillfully captures just how odd it was for a woman to head the world’s stuffiest political party and then to become prime minister: in one scene, he describes the tears, at once chivalrous and wistful, that welled up in the eyes of Conservative Party grandees when Thatcher was named their leader in 1975. The book concludes with Thatcher’s finest hour: her leadership during the 1982 Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina.