Josh's Reviews > The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer's Daughter to Prime Minister

The Iron Lady by John Campbell
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's review
Feb 04, 2012

it was ok
Read from February 04, 2012 to May 12, 2013

Author John Campbell compiled a larger two volume biographical set on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. However, this book is a much condensed single volume abridgement by a second author, David Freeman, who didn’t write the original works. What resulted is a comprehensive account of Margaret Thatcher’s work in government that becomes exhausted by an overly negative tone and the feel of a preachy textbook. And yes, there are other ways to write non-fiction which can often be described as fun or exciting – check out Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” or “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris. It just isn’t necessary to painstakingly detail every vague name in each inane cabinet reshuffle throughout her entire life.

Having reached only the half-way point, this is the first review I’ve written about a book of which I failed to complete. After multiple attempts to read through, I finally threw up my hands in disgust over the authors’ nauseatingly tedious style and their obvious disgust for the former prime minister and her policies. By chance, this is also the first time I’ve ever been actively reading something when the subject matter – Thatcher – happens to pass away. Hopefully, the newly released official biography, by Charles Moore, shows more success at capturing the enormous spirit of this political giant while finding a way to tell an enjoyable and balanced story about her role during the momentous era of the 1980s.

While some criticism is allowable, critical to any decent biography, this book is overloaded with the negative. Why didn’t these authors feel the need to explain what Thatcher means to her followers and the movement she led? They never stop attacking her accomplishments and motives. Take for example this shockingly one-sided comment: “…she was not a true liberal at all, but a class warrior who waged and won the class war on behalf of her own kind by using free-market policies tempered with blatant bribes like mortgage-interest tax relief as methods of social reward.” And this comment, on page 252, is not followed up by a positive approach, just more attacks.

My unconfirmed guess is that this work may represent an overly hasty attempt to take advantage of the corresponding release of Meryl Streep’s strong, but disappointing 2011 film “The Iron Lady.” Perhaps it was just too soon; more time may need to pass for history to get a clear view of Thatcher. My suggestion is to file this book away as reference material and seek an alternative. Why doesn’t Goodreads produce a 1½ star rating -- appropriate here -- and why is this otherwise excellent website still describing a 2 star rating as “ok?”
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05/31/2013 marked as: read

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