Thatcher's Britain: The Politics and Social Upheaval of the Thatcher Era

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Simon & Schuster, 2009 - Great Britain - 403 pages
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It will, in May 2009, be thirty years since Margaret Thatcher entered Downing Street. Thatcher was the longest serving prime minister of the twentieth-century and her period in government coincided with extraordinary changes in British society and in Britain's place in the world. Thatcher's image permeates, not just discussion of recent British history, but also films and novels -- there has even been a musical based on her career. Curiously, the emphasis on Thatcher as a kind of cultural icon has often gone with a declining interest in the details of what her government did. This book tells the story of Thatcherism for a generation with no personal memories of the 1980s -- as well as for those who want to revisit the polemics of their youth. It aims to describe Thatcherism in a way that is both detached and engaging. Most of all, it seeks to rescue Margaret Thatcher from being seen as John the Baptist for Tony Blair. It stresses that Thatcherism was not a timeless phenomenon that can be traced back into the nineteenth century or transported forward into the twenty-first. It was rooted in the 1970s and 1980s -- a time when the Soviet empire seemed to be expanding and when the British economy seemed to be on its deathbed. Anyone who wants a flavour of the times should recall that Margaret Thatcher received her first ever letter from Ronald Reagan on the day that Saigon fell to the Viet Cong.

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I've waiting for a good review of the Thatcher years for some time - and this is a good survey. Vinen considers whether there really was such a thing as "Thatcherism" - and decides there wasn't. He is ... Read full review


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