In This Review

Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith; In London, Washington, and Moscow
Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith; In London, Washington, and Moscow
By Charles Moore
Knopf, 2016, 880 pp

Moore is a Tory journalist who has been working on a definitive Margaret Thatcher biography for 18 years—with the third volume still to come. The first volume explored Thatcher the person; this second one looks more closely at Thatcher the politician, covering her time in office from 1979 through her third election, in 1987. At her best, she was energetic, committed, and courageous. She faced down striking coal miners, imposed privatization, reformed local government, and negotiated a British rebate from the EU. She was realistic, compromising on China’s demands regarding Hong Kong, the EU’s single-market initiative, the U.S. invasion of Grenada, and the conflict in Northern Ireland. She was visionary, seeing the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a man with whom she could do business and, for better or worse, completely overhauling the British economy. And she was lucky, as every successful politician must be, waging and winning the Falklands War and thus transforming a prime ministership whose days seemed numbered into one of the postwar United Kingdom’s longest. In the end, however, she could not escape the fate of so many powerful leaders: the narrowing of vision, and ultimately paranoia, that comes from relying on ever-fewer close advisers.