Margaret Thatcher's memoir, The Downing Street Years, is an absorbing account which faithfully reflects its author and subject. Its style is her style: lucid, decisive, self-confident, and engaging. Its story is her story: what she intended and planned, what she did, whom she appointed and fired, how she was finally brought down as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of Great Britain.
We knew already that Margaret Thatcher was no Hamlet endlessly pondering difficult decisions, no Coriolanus too proud to state her case. From this memoir we learn just how confident she is in her understanding of Britain's problems and her ability to find solutions. She knows her strengths.
Of then-president George Bush, she writes that he was decent, honest, courageous and patriotic, but he "never had to think through his beliefs and fight for them when they were hopelessly unfashionable as Ronald Reagan and I had to do. This meant that much of his time was now taken up with reaching for answers to problems which to me came quite spontaneously because they sprang from my basic conviction."
Like most of the very small company of political leaders who actually change their time and place, Margaret Thatcher had a unifying vision of what Britain could be and should be. That vision was unfashionable, out of step with dominant opinion. But her vision of a more bold, successful, entrepreneurial, free Great Britain guided Thatcher as she guided Britain for over eleven years, much as Charles deGaulle's "idea" of France guided him through decades of effort to create the stronger, more united, more effective, more independent France that already existed in his mind. Like deGaulle and her great predecessor, Winston Churchill, Thatcher sought not only to revive Britain, but to strengthen and reinvigorate the British. Like deGaulle, Thatcher felt herself destined to accomplish this task.