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Sweetie Pies

Jenny Diski, 23 May 1996

Below the Parapet: The Biography of Denis Thatcher 
by Carol Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 00 255605 7
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... Denis Thatcher is entirely inventable – as John Wells understood: he comes in a flat pack with easy-to-follow instructions, all the components familiar general shapes, all parts from stock, no odd angles, no imagination required. When they came up with the idea for Ikea, they used Denis Thatcher as the prototype ...

Short Cuts

Colin Smith: Carlos the Jackal, 26 January 2012

... He was the Venezuelan rich kid straight out of the Kensington crammer his mother sent him to – Carol Thatcher went there too. ‘He is not as clever as he thinks or imagines,’ one end of term report noted. ‘He talks far too loudly and too long.’ Olivier Leurent, who headed the panel of seven judges, meticulously observed the prisoner’s right ...

There is only one Harrods

Paul Foot, 23 September 1993

Tiny Rowland: A Rebel Tycoon 
by Tom Bower.
Heinemann, 659 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 434 07339 3
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... information, at least some of which was demonstrably true. His central claim was that the Thatcher government favoured the Fayed bid largely because of the brothers’ connections with the Sultan of Brunei, and that the Fayeds’ claims were accepted without the most elementary inquiries. The Fayeds’ bid, backed by merchant bankers Kleinwort Benson ...

A Different Sort of Tory

Ronald Stevens: Max Hastings, 12 December 2002

Editor: An Inside Story of Newspapers 
by Max Hastings.
Macmillan, 398 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 333 90837 6
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... Many of the old retainers were underemployed and keen to go, but some younger people – including Carol Thatcher – were forced out as well. The dismissal of the Premier’s daughter caused a rift with her mother (whom Black idolised) which lasted until Mrs Thatcher’s ejection from Downing Street five years ...

Other People’s Capital

John Lanchester: Conrad and Barbara Black, 14 December 2006

Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge 
by Tom Bower.
Harper, 436 pp., £20, November 2006, 0 00 723234 9
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... any one of these could be a topic. When he achieved his first, long wished-for meeting with Mrs Thatcher, Black took the opportunity to lecture her on her place in British history, with special reference to Pitt and Disraeli. When he had lunch with Prince Charles, a mention of the prince’s vegetarianism had him expounding on the eating habits of British ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone, 2 January 2020

Margaret ThatcherThe Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... When​ King Fahd of Saudi Arabia discovered in late November 1990 that his friend Margaret Thatcher had been turfed out of Downing Street after 11 years he thought she must have been the victim of a coup d’état. How else to explain it? She was undefeated in general elections and, more puzzling still, she was about to send her armed forces into battle ...

Her Boy

R.W. Johnson: Mark Thatcher, 16 November 2006

Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher 
by Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran.
Mainstream, 415 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 1 84596 118 8
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The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa 
by Adam Roberts.
Profile, 304 pp., £9.99, June 2006, 1 86197 934 7
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... There is a terrible relentlessness about Thatcher’s Fortunes, a chronicle that can be easily summed up. Mark Thatcher, talentless, and so graceless that the most charming thing about him was that he would sometimes introduce himself as ‘charmless Mark’, was – is – doted on by ‘Mummy’, in whose eyes he could do no wrong and who insisted, against all the evidence, that he was a ‘born businessman ...

The End of British Farming

Andrew O’Hagan: British farming, 22 March 2001

... into the fire, he waggled his stocking-soled feet, and blew out his lips. ‘I think Margaret Thatcher saw those guaranteed prices farmers were getting and just hated it,’ he said, ‘and now, though it kills me, we may have to face something: there are too many sheep in the economy. Farmers go down to the market every other week and sell one sheep, and ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter, 22 September 1994

Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... especially when the subject is a woman. In a review of a book about Jean Stafford in 1988, Joyce Carol Oates declared her disgust with ‘pathography’, a narrative focused on dysfunction, breakdown, addiction and disaster, rather than on the mysterious process whereby artists spin their dirty straw into gold. Writing about the Sylvia Plath industry in The ...

It wasn’t him, it was her

Jenny Diski: Nietzsche’s Bad Sister, 25 September 2003

Nietzsche’s Sister and the Will to Power: A Biography of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche 
by Carol Diethe.
Illinois, 214 pp., £26, July 2003, 0 252 02826 0
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... anarchists, libertarians, hippies, yippies, radical psychiatrists, religious cultists . . . Carol Diethe believes that Nietzsche’s name still needs clearing. As a founder of something called the British Friedrich Nietzsche Foundation (I couldn’t find it on the Web), she presents this biography of Elisabeth Nietzsche as a condemnation of the actions ...

Travelling in the Wrong Direction

Lorna Finlayson: Popular Feminism, 4 July 2019

Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny 
by Sarah Banet-Weiser.
Duke, 220 pp., £18.99, November 2018, 978 1 4780 0291 8
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Darkness Now Visible: Patriarchy’s Resurgence and Feminist Resistance 
by Carol Gilligan and David Richards.
Cambridge, 162 pp., £21.99, August 2018, 978 1 108 47065 0
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Feminism for the 99 Per Cent: A Manifesto 
by Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya and Nancy Fraser.
Verso, 85 pp., £7.99, March 2019, 978 1 78873 442 4
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... will look out for their sisters has now faced two rather spectacular counter-examples in Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. It is far from obvious why we should expect women in power to practise a different or more feminist politics. Feminists have long been sceptical, with good reason, of essentialist claims about women, which have traditionally served to ...


Christopher Hitchens: On Peregrine Worsthorne, 4 November 1993

... point at the time, and later paid me back handsomely with a superb introduction to Margaret Thatcher, so I was depressed to find great tranches of his memoir taken up with pseudo-nostalgic poppycock about the virtues of white supremacy in Africa and elsewhere. The problem with his ridiculous and often hateful opinions – on Suez, on Vietnam, on ...

Not a desire to have him, but to be like him

Slavoj Žižek: Highsmith is the One, 21 August 2003

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith 
by Andrew Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £25, June 2003, 0 7475 6314 4
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... tact, her openness about her fantasies and prejudices (although a leftist, she preferred Margaret Thatcher to the usual feminist bunch). Or the ethico-political grounds – already, in 1954, she was describing the US as a ‘second Roman Empire’ – on which she based her decision to make her home in ‘old Europe’. As Frank Rich put it, she ‘made a ...


Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... is that it’s both romantic and conventional, Pearson Park was a garret.15 April, Lady Thatcher back on the scene, lecturing the world about Bosnia with ‘Bomb the Serbs’ her solution. She doesn’t begin by saying, as any fair-minded person would. ‘I admit I supported the Serbs to start with,’ Just hoping no one will remember that (and ...

Bernard Levin: Book Two

Clive James, 6 December 1979

Taking Sides 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 281 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 330 26203 3
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... object a shapeless mass. Levin talking about Solzhenitsyn doesn’t sound very different from Mrs Thatcher talking about Solzhenitskyn, the mysterious Russian writer whose name was so memorably invoked in a Conservative Party Political Broadcast. In other words, he sounds as if he is speaking in the debating chamber. The difference between making debating ...

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