A brisk and enlightening portrait of Britain's longest-ruling prime minister, tailored to an American readership by a former Time magazine London bureau chief. Precocious, intelligent, and impossibly domineering from childhood, Margaret Thatcher internalized her grocer-father's hard-working, penny-pinching approach to life, along with his passion for conservative politics. After marrying Denis Thatcher and giving birth to twins, the attractive young woman with the china-doll face was elected to Parliament and shrewdly moved up the political ladder until--with equal doses of determination and sheer good luck--she became prime minister, a position she'd considered unobtainable by a woman in her lifetime. Once in office, Thatcher put her convictions into action, implementing a storm of conservative programs aimed at privatizing industry, lowering taxes, cutting social programs, and limiting immigration--while utterly ignoring both the public outcry and the Queen's implicit disapproval as unemployment climbed to unprecedented numbers and the economy floundered. Though Thatcher has recovered her popularity sufficiently to win reelections time and again, crises including the Falklands incident, an objectionally ambivalent relationship with South Africa, and Britain's compliance with the US's attack on Libya have abounded throughout her career. Nevertheless, Odgen points out, the P.M.--largely through her dealings with Reagan and Gorbachev--has succeeded brilliantly in reinstating Britain as a world power, and goes so far as to wonder how Britain could have survived the Eighties without this willful, humorless, but absolutely committed leader. Highly readable, and amply supplemented with explanations of British political practices for the American reader. (For an equally thorough but somewhat less sympathetic portrait of Thatcher, see Hugo Young's The Iron Lady, 1989).