The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, From Grocer's Daughter To Prime Minister
By John Campbell
New York: Penguin, 2011
I saw the movie The Iron Lady in January and loved it. A bit sadder than I expected but still quite good. I was 3 when Lady Thatcher became Prime Minister, and though while growing up I remember hearing her name on the news, I never really paid much attention to her story, her politics, her place on the world stage. After reading this book and seeing its movie adaptation, I kind of wish that I had been old enough to understand and to care. She was quite the character.
I like politics and international relations. In this day and age, we should each to some degree care about what happens on the world stage. Globalization has made the world so much smaller. And I left this book with a little sadness and/or remorse that I hadn't know more about her while she was Prime Minister.
A few thoughts from reading the book....
The book was very detailed -- from what I could tell through speed reading. The author included a lot of material. He was not all praise, and he was not all condemnation. He seemed fair-handed in his assessment of Lady Thatcher's time in office.
I found myself reading more closely the parts that included her husband Denis, her daughter Carol and the Queen. I read the sections with Denis or Carol because I had seen the movie, in which both were present. The love story/relationship between Margaret and Denis was a large part of the movie so reading more about the real life story was interesting. The movie included her daughter Carol in a role that her daughter probably would not have in real life. In real life Margaret's daughter is quite scathing about her relationship with her mother. And the section discussing the interaction and relationship between Lady Thatcher and the Queen was very interesting (I thought). It wasn't covered in the movie but how it was covered in the book was fascinating.
The movie showed how quickly Lady Thatcher lost her position as Prime Minister. I don't really remember that from growing up (guess I didn't care so much at 14), so when I saw the movie version, I was curious to find out if it happened that fast. Apparently, it did. The book was very descriptive of those three weeks (it happened fast!).
I really enjoyed the book. I loved getting some depth to what the movie portrayed in a couple hours' worth of time. The movie hit most of the high points, though it didn't touch on Lady Thatcher's relationship with America so much (especially with President Reagan) or her fights with the European community or her jet-setting as a world figure. I think the movie did what it set out to do -- show who Margaret Thatcher was and how she might be dealing with dementia now -- and the book more than filled in any blanks.
It was long but I'm glad I (sped) read it.