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There are many myths about Margaret Thatcher’s extraordinary personality and political career. But what was it really like to work with her? In The Real Iron Lady: Working with Margaret Thatcher, Gillian Shephard speaks to an eclectic and distinguished range of Mrs T.’s former colleagues; all offer a unique insight into what the Iron Lady was really like at close quarters. Among them are John Major, Geoffrey Howe, Douglas Hurd and other Cabinet colleagues, alongside an ambassador and senior civil servants. In addition, prominent Conservative Party members, distinguished journalists and a leading trade unionist add their views, as well as MPs, political advisers and Downing Street staff. A French perspective is even provided by Hubert Védrine, foreign minister to erstwhile President François Mitterrand. Gillian Shephard has laced this miscellany of recollections of the Iron Lady with her own sparkling wit and acerbic comments – resulting in a fascinating close-up portrait of Britain’s first woman Prime Minister. Most importantly, it is a portrait painted by the people who were with her throughout the dramas of her political career: the Falklands conflict, the miners’ strike, the Brighton Bomb outrage and, eventually, her downfall. The book, with its wealth of previously unpublished material, portrays Margaret Thatcher as a woman of contrasts: courageous, kind, ferocious, feminine – and so far, unsurpassed.

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