THE IRON LADY: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher by Hugo Young
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THE IRON LADY: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A writer for The Guardian and broadcaster for the BBC undertakes a solid biography (a #1 best-seller on the British charts) of Britain's most influential P.M. since Churchill. Young presents a far more substantive study of Thatcher than anything yet extant (Kenneth Harris' Thatcher and Peter Jenkins' Mrs. Thatcher's Revolution, both 1988, were mere essays compared to this). What stands out here is the extent to which Thatcher--a woman in a man's world--has evinced an exclusionary attitude toward women throughout her life. Young demonstrates how the P.M.'s attitude toward her own mother has always been barely tolerant, while she idolized her father, from whom she inherited a joyless earnestness. One acquaintance is quoted: ""They were all serious-minded, and they worked too hard. Life was a serious matter to be lived conscientiously."" Little of Thatcher's future stature could be gleaned from her school days, when she retained a genuine interest in science. But once bitten by the bug of Oxford politics (where she served a term as president of the Oxford University Conservative Association), she was smitten for life. Oxford was the agent of her evolution from a small-town northerner into the ""classless, implacable, homogenized mind and manners which are typical of suburban southern England,"" and her eventual rise to high national office--while her marriage to a wealthy businessman, Denis Thatcher, allowed her to pursue her political career with undistracted single-mindedness. Young presents the more familiar details of Thatcher's attempts to dismantle Britain's welfare state and of her special vision of conservation in a manner that brings her to life as no one has done before. As definitive as a biography can be of a life still in progress. Excellent work.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux