In the introduction, the younger Bush tells of a visit he had with the famed historian David McCullough. During the course of their conversation, McCuIn the introduction, the younger Bush tells of a visit he had with the famed historian David McCullough. During the course of their conversation, McCullough relates that one of the biggest disappointments of written history was the fact that John Quincy Adams never wrote a biography of his father. The unique nature of a father/son relationship which shares the rarest of the positions – President of the United States – offers possible insight to historians that typical biographies cannot. Thus, McCullough urged George W. Bush to write the biography of George H.W. Bush.
McCullough was correct – it was important to write such a book, but given the nature of the U.S. political scene, and possible state secrets, 41: A Portrait of my Father, does little to compare presidencies or provide any unique insights into how they both handled tough situations.
What it does say is this: George H.W. Bush was a man of values and morals, treated everyone with respect, and was esteemed by everyone who knew him. The fact that his political career survived Watergate intact is a testament to that fact. The high standards he expected of himself was also expected of his family, and the younger Bush showed how he adopted these principles throughout his presidency and beyond.
All in all, it’s a nice tribute from a son to a father....more
“There have been times when debt pinned down the United States as it once pinned down Oliver [Coolidge]. One such moment came after World War I, whe “There have been times when debt pinned down the United States as it once pinned down Oliver [Coolidge]. One such moment came after World War I, when the national debt hit $27 billion, a level nine times higher than what it had been just a few years before. Income tax rates were high. Jobs were becoming scarce. Angry veterans roamed the streets of cities, furious that they could not pay prices for food or clothing that were double what they had been before the war. The country did seem lost, if not cursed. Yet within a few years the panic passed and the trouble eased. The curse became a blessing. The reversal was in good measure due to the perseverance of one man. That man was in fact the heir to the contentious limekiln lot, the great-grandson of Oliver’s brother Calvin: Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States.”
I have a soft spot for presidential biographies. Not only do they tell us about the man behind the office, but there is much to be learned about the historical context in which they lived. I also especially love what Shlaes terms the “economic biography.” A president’s foreign and domestic policies have far-ranging consequences – economic consequences. A biographer who discusses a presidency in terms of the economic health of the country has a special interest for me, and this is precisely what Shlaes does with Coolidge.
“Perhaps the greatest persevering of Calvin Coolidge, the one for which the red-haired president is known best, was his persevering in the very area that plagues Oliver: debt.”
Upon assuming the office of President (after the death of Warren G. Harding), Coolidge was handed a national debt four times greater than the annual national budget. In spite of a Congress that wanted more spending, he took a tight-fisted approach: economize. He and his staff micro-managed, and found ways to reduce spending, from recycling to cutting to small changes. I recall, in a wonderful book written by a white house maid entitled Backstairs at the White House, how President Coolidge required repairs than than replacement, and even stuck in nose the kitchen, asking for less expensive meals. At the end of his Presidency, Coolidge had managed to lower taxes, correctly predicting an increase in revenue as a result, and he also managed to reduce the national debt by 25%. His tenure resulted in ever increasing budget surpluses, and Coolidge took the hard line with his pro-spending legislature, saying “no” to increased spending, and “yes” to paying down the debt.
By the time he left office, the stock market was high, but even he could see a major correction coming. The crash and subsequent depression that followed would haunt the Coolidge legacy and his Republican Party for years to come.
“Coolidge never fully grasped the damage of his party’s pro-tariff plank. He spoke out against intolerance and bigotry, but did too little to stop them. He thought so well of other statesmen that he never foresaw the extent to which Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, or Japanese leaders would take advantage of international disarmament agreements and use those agreements as cover to arm for war. He likewise never foresaw the extent to which succeeding presidents and Congress would diverge from precedent when it came to economic policy. The thirtieth president therefore never imagined the consequences of such a divergence: a depression as lengthy and severe as the one the United States experienced over the ensuing decade.”
His successor, Herbert Hoover, did the opposite of Coolidge in terms of economic policy when Hoover was faced with the tragedy of the stock market crash. Hoover thought spending was the answer. He tightened monetary policy, raised tariffs and raised taxes. The economy worsened and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President. Roosevelt chose policies that differed from Coolidge or Hoover. The shift was a complete turnabout from Coolidge’s policy of “normalcy” - Roosevelt embraced “bold persistent experimentation.” Coolidge did respond to the call that he speak up on behalf of his party and against Roosevelt’s policies, but fate did not give him a voice for long. On January 5, 1933, Coolidge was found dead of a heart attack.
Amity Shlaes writes a well-researched and thought provoking account of Calvin Coolidge’s life, his Presidency and his economic policies. It is definitely worth reading for anyone with these interests....more
“‘Not quite grand enough’ sometimes seemed to be the rally cry which drove the ambitions of Nellie Taft.”
It has been a long held view that William Ho“‘Not quite grand enough’ sometimes seemed to be the rally cry which drove the ambitions of Nellie Taft.”
It has been a long held view that William Howard Taft never wanted to be President of the United States. He loved the law, and it was his desire to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. His wife, Nellie Taft, had other ambitions for him. In Carl Sferrazza Anthony’s biography of the “ragtime era” first lady, we learn how Mrs. Taft had such a great influence upon her husband, that he agreed to an office he didn’t want because it was her desire.
There’s much to Nellie Taft’s (and her husband’s) story, and I found particularly interesting Taft’s governorship in the Philippines, their adversarial relationship with President and Mrs. Teddy Roosevelt, and Nellie Taft’s personality in general. Anthony’s writing style, however, was in the traditional history mold, and there were times I found myself nodding off. Still, I found it worth reading....more
I’m still trying to finish my 52 Books Around the USA Challenge for 2013. With only a handful of books left, I’m eager to get through them and move onI’m still trying to finish my 52 Books Around the USA Challenge for 2013. With only a handful of books left, I’m eager to get through them and move on to the 2014 challenge. And my Missouri pick, Truman, all 1117 pages of it, kept staring at me from the bookshelf. Okay. I admit I have been putting this off. It’s big. It’s intimidating. And was Harry S. Truman all that interesting of a President? The answer, I soon found out, was yes!
I challenged myself to read it next, and I wasn’t disappointed. It took me almost three weeks, but I should have known that David McCullough could not write a book that wouldn’t interest me. Did I mention it won the Pulitzer?
From the background of Truman’s family (which the genealogist in me adored), to his early political career, I enjoyed getting to know Harry S. Truman, personable and heroic bookworm. He had old family values – took care of his loved ones, got a good education and gave back to his country and community. And if that’s not interesting enough for you, throw in shady political backers, and now there’s a story!
His rise to the Vice Presidency was shocking, and then came the biggest stunner of all – the death of FDR leaving the helm of the United States in his hands. As a World War II buff, this was the part I couldn’t put down. The strategies of war, dealings with Churchill and Stalin - it doesn’t get any better than this. In fact I thought this would be the peak of the book for me. But there were some more areas that fascinated me.
As a President used to political support on both sides of the aisle during wartime, Truman seemed shocked and dismayed when his domestic agenda was rejected by both democrats and republicans alike. I was stunned that he assumed he would receive support of a massive spending bill when the US had just taken on billions in wartime debt. In fact, despite his likeability, his job performance on the home front following the war was dismal, according to polls. The man used government as a tool to force the public to behave the way he wanted them to. He used price controls, taxes, and intervention in labor disputes. I laughed when he said he wanted to draft the railroad workers if they continued to strike. Only it wasn’t funny because he was serious.
Lucky for us, his handling of foreign affairs was much better. He provided the assistance needed to help rebuild Europe following the war, and recognized the Soviet threat and worked to halt Communist aggression.
The politics of running for re-election was interesting, but I also enjoyed his post-Presidential life. McCullough is very thorough, and he knows what to include for an interesting and thoughtful biography. Very impressive!...more
Dr. Ben Carson is a respected neurosurgeon who made headlines when he criticized the path American is currently taking at the National Prayer BreakfasDr. Ben Carson is a respected neurosurgeon who made headlines when he criticized the path American is currently taking at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. Known for his motivational books and speeches, Carson has recently been speaking out against the Affordable Care Act and this country's growing dependence on government programs.
In America the Beautiful, Carson addresses the good and the bad in America, and seeks to educate readers about history, personal responsibility and his ideas for a better government.
I found it a bit too simplistic. I've heard most of the history and reasoning before - that's not to say it's bad, but his critics will find it easy to pick apart. Dr. Carson is currently entertaining a bid for the Presidency. With that in mind, it was helpful to learn his take on many issues. And while I like Dr. Carson, there were areas in which we disagree.
Would he make a good President? He is definitely, honest, intelligent and hard-working. He would have to be a natural leader and have the ability to bring the various political forces together. Time will tell if he gets the opportunity....more
While I enjoy presidential biographies, I’ll be the first to admit that finding a book which captures my interest, on such a high level, as A CountryWhile I enjoy presidential biographies, I’ll be the first to admit that finding a book which captures my interest, on such a high level, as A Country of Vast Designs is rare. Make no mistake, this isn’t your ordinary ho-hum history book. Merry confines this biography to pretty much the topic of American expansionism and in doing so, creates a story of America and President James K. Polk, that is absolutely riveting.
Polk’s ascendency to the presidency was a marvel in itself. A split within the Democratic party over the issue of Texas annexation and slavery created a rift that launched James K. Polk as a compromise between competing factions. And while Polk managed to become elected as the 11th President of the United States, those issues became the very thorn in his presidential side. Despite opposition within his party and outside of it, President Polk managed to acquire nearly 600,000 square miles of new territory for this country, new major seaports and wrested economic dominance of the oceans from European control.
As a reader of history, one cannot but help but compare these events with more modern ones. Reading about Polk’s denunciation as a “war-monger”, who fabricated a war for his personal gain, reminded me of the attitudes against President George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Polk bore the brunt of the public anger against an unpopular war, and yet, General Zachary Taylor eventually achieved the accolades of the public due to his military successes in the war (he became president after Polk). Taylor’s popularity is reminiscent of General Colin Powell’s (although instead of being a military commander during the war on terror, he was the Secretary of State).
The great issue of the day was slavery. Seventy years since declaring independence, the neglect of the founding fathers to settle this issue continued to haunt this country. And yet the underpinnings of the issue were not limited to slavery. When our system of government was established, southern states managed to secure additional electoral votes for their slave population because they feared that rising populations of northern cities would undermine their political influence. In Polk’s day, the thought of adding new territories and eventually states with voting rights, threatened the political balance, which was divided between the north and south. Without slavery, the south lost political power and they knew it.
While not nearly as heated, today we have the issue of immigration. While there are certainly those whose thoughts on amnesty have nothing to do with political power, by and large, this is an issue about votes.
Unfortunately for President Polk, the issues of his day were so heated that they overshadowed his accomplishments. Even today, there are those that condemn Polk’s actions, but author Robert W. Merry does a terrific job of explaining the diplomatic affronts committed by Mexico that led up this war. The case is not nearly and black and white as Polk’s naysayers made it out to be. And isn’t that usually the case?
Bravo to Robert W. Merry for an excellent history of President Polk and his quest to expand American territory. Highly recommended for history lovers everywhere! 4 1/2 stars!...more
Continuing on with my American Revolution/colonial America reading, I eagerly delved into Alexander Hamilton. I had already read Chernow’s Washington:Continuing on with my American Revolution/colonial America reading, I eagerly delved into Alexander Hamilton. I had already read Chernow’s Washington: a Life and deemed it the best biography I’ve ever read.
Alexander Hamilton started out meeting all my expectations. Chernow’s excellent research and depth in reporting the events surrounding Hamilton’s life established a terrific launching point and I was completely engrossed.
Here’s what I loved about the book: Additional details about the revolutionary war and Hamilton’s relationship with George Washington were fascinating for me. Once the war was over, the nation building began. All the books I’d read up until this point were short on this subject, and Chernow relates Hamilton’s genius in establishing a central banking system, the stock market, the treasury department, and foreign trade with an understanding of economics that is simply pure genius. He also goes into great detail explaining Hamilton’s opposition, namely Thomas Jefferson and Republicans, and why they disagree with Hamilton’s policies to the point of venemous attacks on his character. Understanding this period of American government/politics certainly helps one put in perspective the vitriol that occurs in politics today. After all, if the hostilities were so great then, (and both Hamilton and Jefferson were willing to toss constitutional protections out the window to achieve their own ends), the “happy ending” of the survival of our system of government, should make us breathe a little easier, in the knowledge that we can still come out this turbulence relatively unscathed.
What didn’t I like about the book? Two things. First, a friend told me that she felt Chernow exhibited bias in his Washington book. At the time, it didn’t bother me because it’s my opinion that all historians show some bias, whether they intend to or not. On further reflection, I recalled how the author seemed to deliberately show negative characteristics of Thomas Jefferson. If those traits were pushed to the forefront in Washington: a Life, they were used to crucify the man in Alexander Hamilton. I don’t think Chernow had one bit of praise for Jefferson – he saved it all for Hamilton. And yet, Hamilton had many, many enemies. How is it that a man with seemingly few faults could be so hated? I know it’s politics, but these men actually knew each other. There must have been something in Hamilton’s character that rubbed people the wrong way. That’s not to say that Chernow avoided Hamilton’s faults altogether. It’s just that he barely touched on them, while putting him on a high pedestal at the same time.
The second issue I had with the book was the amount of time spent on the accusations that flew back and forth between Hamilton and the Federalists versus Jefferson and the Republicans. This seemed to take up 25% of the book, and it was a very long book.
That said, it was still an excellent work and worth 4 1/2 stars (I just had to knock that half star off for the bias and the extra time spent on the verbals attacks). It would actually be interesting if Chernow were to write a biography of Thomas Jefferson. The different perspective would be interesting, but I don’t know if Chernow would appreciate the hate-mail that would likely ensue....more
After reading 1776, George Washington and John Adams, I was ready to expound upon my knowledge of our third President and writer of the Declaration ofAfter reading 1776, George Washington and John Adams, I was ready to expound upon my knowledge of our third President and writer of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson is an immortal hero for Americans, and often that status comes with a lofty purity that is difficult to actually live up to. In R. B. Bernstein’s abbreviated biography, I felt I got to know the real person that Jefferson was, rather than the icon.
Jefferson was clearly a passionate man. He had a love for learning and enjoyed erudite discussions with knowledgeable men of his time. He even extended those discussion’s to Abigail Adams, but it is fairly clear that, like most men of his era, he felt that women were of an inferior mind to men. His passions, however got him into trouble. He would stand firm on an issue (for instance his belief in a very limited Federal Government), write scathing critiques of anyone who disagreed with him, and later, when he had to bend his own beliefs (for example, when he approved the Louisiana Purchase although many in Congress felt this power was not granted to the Federal Government) his public would never let him live it down. He clearly was not the pragmatic man that Washington or even Adams was.
Jefferson wrote much about his dislike of slavery and felt that it should be abolished. Yet he owned hundreds of slaves and never set a single one free. I believe it was likely a weakness of character. Jefferson wanted to create an image of being one of the planter elite, and so he continually burdened himself with large debts. The assets with which he could guarantee payment of those debts, included his slaves, and he likely felt that freeing them would make him appear untrustworthy (as opposed to the honorable gentleman he wished to be perceived as) to his creditors.
Regardless of his personal shortcomings, his gifts to Americans (and mankind) are immeasurable. The concept of a republic, free from aristocratic rule, and freedom for all men is one that has spread like wildfire across the globe. Jefferson didn’t come up with the idea, but he helped to promote it. His words in our Declaration of Independence have been used to establish new democracies in other countries. Thomas Jefferson was a Governor of Virginia, the first U.S. Secretary of State,and our 3rd U.S. President. He founded the University of Virginia, established lucrative trade treaties and more than doubled the size of the United States.
While this is by no means a definitive biography, it’s a good start. There was a six volume biography written by a historian in the 1980′s, but given the fact that there are over 40,000 letters written by or received by Jefferson, it’s a monumental task for any biographer. 3 1/2 stars....more
For those of you who aren’t familiar with my background, I possess college degrees in both Political Science and Finance. I am fascinated with the subFor those of you who aren’t familiar with my background, I possess college degrees in both Political Science and Finance. I am fascinated with the subjects of history and economics. So, when I started reading House of Morgan, I quickly realized that the book in my hands was the culmination of all my favorite subjects put together. Ron Chernow, already on my radar as a foremost biographer, was apparently in charge of financial policy studies for a public policy foundation during the 1980′s. With this background, he sought to put together a comprehensive look at the changes taken place in modern American finance over the years, through the vehicle of the J.P. Morgan Company.
Beginning with a fascinating look at 19th century economic expansion, it is clear that without bankers like J.P. Morgan, Americans (and Europeans) would not have enjoyed the successes reaped from the industrial age. These banks were so powerful, it fell to them ensure the success or prevent the failure of corporations and governments alike. In those days there was a gentleman banker code, limiting competition between financial houses and discouraging bankers from rounding up new business. They understood their place in the world and their obligations – which included infusing capital at times to save drowning economies.
Later organizations like the Fed and the World Bank arose to step into that role, and the financial houses were split up between banking and securities. Politicians just weren’t comfortable placing that kind of responsibility in the hands of private businessmen. It was clear that a power struggle was developing that was leaving governments beholden to the banks. So government enacted laws like Glass-Steagal in an attempt to limit the power of financial giants like J.P. Morgan’s empire.
It is one of the most interesting and well-written works of history that I have ever read. It should be required reading for finance or business majors. Heck, it wouldn’t hurt if most people read this book. It might better help people to understand the complex world in which they live.
It has been my experience, that modern political discourse (and apparently throughout history, as the book elaborates), tends to dumb down the world of the finance for the average American. Politicians would rather not have voters aware of how their policies have negatively affected the economies, and usually point fingers at those in the world of finance. While sometimes, that finger pointing is justified (as with insider trading or highly risky leveraged buy-outs), more often than not, it’s government policy that is to blame.
This book came out on 1990, and so the recent mortgage crisis of 2008 is not mentioned in this book. It would be interesting to see if Chernow had any comments on it.
“By the time of his death, Washington has poured his last ounce of passion into the creation of his country. Never a perfect man, he always had a nor“By the time of his death, Washington has poured his last ounce of passion into the creation of his country. Never a perfect man, he always had a normal quota of human frailty, including a craving for money, status, and fame. Ambitious and self-promoting in his formative years, he had remained a tightfisted, sharp-elbowed businessman and a hard-driving slave master. But over the years, this man of deep emotions and strong opinions had learned to subordinate his personal dreams and aspirations to the service of a larger cause, evolving into a statesman with a prodigious mastery of political skills and an unwavering sense of America’s future greatness. In the things that mattered most for his country, he had shown himself capable of constant growth and self-improvement.”
Ron Chernow’s masterpiece Washington: A Life is an amazing example of the perfect blend of research of the direct subject (Washington) and the world around him. Not for the faint-hearted, this 904 page tome truly tells a through accounting of George Washington. Chernow gives the reader a depiction of a man who, though not perfect, is full of ideals, loyalty and wisdom.
This book is the 2011 winner of the Pultizer Prize for biography. In my opinion, it is absolutely deserved. Never have I read a biography that was more thorough, and yet not superfluous. Chernow’s writing style is excellent – he really makes Washington and his contemporaries come alive. This biography left me with a better understanding of the father of our country, and a greater appreciation for the legacy that he gave all Americans....more
The year is 1880 and James Garfield is merely weeks into his new office of President of the United States. As he prepares to board a train, a man apprThe year is 1880 and James Garfield is merely weeks into his new office of President of the United States. As he prepares to board a train, a man approaches him (this is before the days of the Secret Service) and shoots him with a revolver. What follows is months of rudimentary doctoring, as well as agony for the patient and the nation, alike.
The Destiny of the Republic is such a fascinating work of history. It is not only President Garfield’s story (which is interesting in it’s own right), but a glimpse into a past that has been largely forgotten. I appreciated Millard’s providing of important information regarding the political scene of the day, the state of medicine in the United States, and the mood of the public in the wake of a Presidential assassination. It makes for a much more complete accounting of this event and is also provides the reader with an engrossing story.
Thanks to Doubleday for sending me an advance review copy of The Destiny of the Republic. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves history or is interested in a gripping real-life narrative....more
This is a compilation of the two volume biography that Ambrose had earlier released. It’s a slightly condensed version, but it certainly isn’t lackingThis is a compilation of the two volume biography that Ambrose had earlier released. It’s a slightly condensed version, but it certainly isn’t lacking. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s history is fascinating and for good reason. He was the commander in chief for the allied forces during World War II, and the first third of the book tells the story of his rise, the decisions that propelled the allies to victory and his relationships during the war – personal and professional.
Following the war, he was a staunch supporter the United Nations, and, as head of the American Occupation Zone in Germany, he had great influence in the direction taken to rebuild Europe. Later, as Commander of NATO, he showed great courage by insisting that Germany not only be included, but also build a military force to help secure NATO against the Soviet threat. When you think about it, less than ten years after a German-led war, this took a lot of courage and leadership.
He was so trusted and popular, it was no surprise that General Eisenhower was asked to run for President of the United States. Like all Presidents, Eisenhower suffered personal and political defeats during his terms of office. As the highest ranking military officer, he was used to be treated with the utmost respect – I enjoyed the stories of his dismay when political supporters presumed too much familiarity, or political foes showed disrespect altogether.
One of my favorite stories was near the end, when John F. Kennedy was President. Following the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy asked Eisenhower for advice on dealing with the Russians.
Eisenhower asked Kennedy why on earth he had not provided air cover for the invasion. Kennedy replied that “we thought that if it was learned that were really doing this rather than these rebels themselves, the Soviets would be very apt to cause trouble in Berlin.” Eisenhower gave him another long look, then said, “Mr. President, that is exactly the opposite of what would really happen. The Soviets follow their own plans, and if they see us show any weakness then is when they press us the hardest. The second they see us show strength and do something on our own, then is when they are very cagy. The failure of Bay of Pigs will embolden the Soviets to do something they would not otherwise do.”
Of course, Eisenhower was absolutely right, and history has proved it to be so. The story is interesting because it highlighted Kennedy’s inexperience, but also his humility in asking Eisenhower for advice.
Despite this being a monstrous tome, I enjoyed every minute of it. Ambrose is a master storyteller when it comes to history, and Eisenhower does not disappoint. 4 1/2 stars....more
All I can say is "I can't believe I took so long to read this!" I have owned this book for 20 years, and for 20 years it has sat on my shelf collectinAll I can say is "I can't believe I took so long to read this!" I have owned this book for 20 years, and for 20 years it has sat on my shelf collecting dust. I have always been a fan of Margaret Thatcher, but somehow felt I was not well versed enough in British politics to appreciate Lady Thatcher's memoirs of her time as Prime Minister.
In some ways, it is very interesting to read this book now. From the outset, the Britain she faced when taking office was very much like America today:
"...the British Government soon jammed a finger in every pie. It levied high rates of tax on work, enterprise, consumption and wealth transfer. it planned development at every level - urban, rural, industrial and scientific. It managed the economy, macro-economically by Keynesian methods of fiscal manipulation, micro-economically by granting regional and industrial subsidies on a variety of criteria."
"It made available various forms of welfare for a wide range of contingencies - poverty, unemployment, large families, old age, misfortune, ill-health, family quarrels - generally on a universal basis."
"Labour moved Britain towards statism; the Tories stood pat; and the next Labour Government moved the country a little further left. The Tories were the corset of socialism; they never removed it."
Mrs. Thatcher described the economic problems Britain faced as having evolved from the ideal of a "democratic socialist society" that Labour espoused.
"No theory of government was ever given a fairer test or a more prolonged experiment in a democratic society than democratic socialism received in Britain. Yet it was a miserable failure in every respect."
Fortunately for Prime Minister Thatcher, Britain's system of government meant that as long as she convinced her Tory party members to back her, she had a free hand reversing the course set by Labour. She understood that her primary goals were to set the British economy on a better footing through deregulation, privatization, debt reduction, income tax reduction, and sound fiscal policy. Another large component of her administration was to raise Britain up to, once again, a high ranking power in the world. When she left office she had accomplished these goals.
I was fascinated with her chapters on improving Britain's economy, dealings with the European Council and the way she took on the trade unions. The Falkland War chapters were also enlightening. I have studied much about the collapse of the Soviet Union and it's relations with the United States, so Thatcher's discussion of these events and the repercussions to Europe were particularly interesting.
One the things that kept me from reading this book for so long, was my fear that I was not familiar enough with British politics or government to fully appreciate this memoir. In some instances that was true. Lady Thatcher used so many acronyms that were lost on me. I had to look up many, and oftentimes, even when I understood what they now meant, the people and departments were still too foreign for me to fully comprehend. That said, those times were the minority.
Margaret Thatcher had a keen insight about the way the world works. Her writing is powerful - her speechwriters always claimed that they never wrote her speeches, but that she wrote them and they "helped." There were many times I wanted to yell "Yes!" to an eloquent comment she made, or picked up the phone to call someone to further discuss something she had said in the book. There's an old game people play where you are asked if you could choose one person, living or dead, to sit down to dinner with, who would it be? I can most definitely say it would be Margaret Thatcher. 4 1/2 stars....more