Thatcher's Britain, By Richard Vinen

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The Independent Culture

Where were you when Margaret Thatcher came to power? Richard Vinen, a historian both sharp and tough, recalls his O-level Latin class in Solihull and makes the point that the first female premiership "cut deeply" into British private lives.

This witty, timely reassessment, very much designed to clear the ground of clichés, takes a laser to many myths. From the "warrior queen" era of the Falklands and the foredoomed "hopelessness" of the coal strike to the collective breakdown of her 1990 fall, Vinen shows that Mrs T changed her enemies as much as her friends.

"Remarkably liberal" on subjects such as Aids, her adminstrations emerge not as a revolutionary junta (as spellbound New Labour thought) but the managers of shifting, ad hoc responses to a "particular time". That time, he argues, has now passed.

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