Iron Lady on Her Mettle

At the end of the first volume of Charles Moore’s lapidary trilogy, we left Mrs. Thatcher standing in St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1982, surrounded by the shades of past national leaders, bathed in public approval and growing global respect as the victor of the Falklands War and standard-bearer for a new and dynamic kind of conservative politics.  This keenly anticipated second installment carries on her career from that triumph down to her final electoral victory in 1987.  It was during this lustrum that her political style started to become apparent and her legacy began to crystallize, as she dealt, often successfully, with systemic problems lesser leaders would never have attempted.

From Hong Kong to Washington, Brussels to Jerusalem, privatization to perestroika, seething northern miners to South African sanctions, whether addressing both houses of the U.S. Congress or crawling shoeless away from her bombed Brighton bedroom, Mrs. Thatcher not only clung to power but became ever more armor-plated.  By the time she won her historic third term, she had become, for an adoring social segment of the country, the personification of Britannic pluck, so apparently immoveable that her party was often seen (and saw itself) as “the natural party of government.”  For a smaller but more voluble social segment, she was the...

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