The most recommended Margaret Thatcher books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to Margaret Thatcher, and here are their favorite Margaret Thatcher books.
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The Grudge

By Tom English,

Book cover of The Grudge: Two Nations, One Match, No Holds Barred

Martin Pengelly Author Of Brotherhood: When West Point Rugby Went to War

From the list on brotherhood in war – and sports.

Who am I?

I played rugby union for Durham University and at Rosslyn Park FC in London. Then I became a reporter and editor, for Rugby News magazine and on Fleet Street sports desks. In March 2002, six months after 9/11 and a year before the invasion of Iraq, my Park team played against the cadets of the United States Military Academy. Years later, settled in New York, I decided to find out what happened to those West Point rugby players in the 9/11 wars, and what their experiences might tell us about sports, war, brotherhood, loss, and remembrance.

Martin's book list on brotherhood in war – and sports

Why did Martin love this book?

Tom English has produced a series of oral histories (latterly with Peter Burns) which any fan would be advised to read.

The Grudge tells the story of Scotland v England 1990, a game for the Five Nations title that stood for so much more: politics, nationalism, class warfare. It’s a glorious re-telling of an epic game, an upset Scotland win. But I love it for its portrayal of respect between players, of warriors bound by the violent game they play, of friendships across the lines of battle.

Brian Moore emerges a hero: the fearsome “Pitbull” of the England pack, yet a man who fronted up and went drinking with Scots after a crushing defeat. That, to me, is the true spirit of rugby, and the brotherhood it inspires.

By Tom English,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Grudge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Murrayfield, the Calcutta Cup, March 1990. England vs. Scotland - winner-takes-all for the Five Nations Grand Slam, the biggest prize in northern hemisphere rugby. Will Carling's England are the very embodiment of Margaret Thatcher's Britain - snarling, brutish and all-conquering. Scotland are the underdogs - second-class citizens from a land that's become the testing ground for the most unpopular tax in living memory: Thatcher's Poll Tax. In Edinburgh, nationalism is rising high - what happens in the stadium will resound far beyond the pitch.

The Grudge brilliantly recaptures a day that has gone down in history when a rugby match…

The Shadow of the Mine

By Huw Beynon, Ray Hudson,

Book cover of The Shadow of the Mine: Coal and the End of Industrial Britain

Stefan Berger Author Of History and Identity: How Historical Theory Shapes Historical Practice

From the list on why identity issues are so hot in history.

Who am I?

I've been working on questions of identity and history for more than thirty years. It's a very personal topic for me, as I come from a working-class background – something that I was acutely aware of throughout my school and university education, where people of my background were comparatively rare. History in my view has the power to construct essentialist identities that exclude and are potentially deadly. But history also has the power to critically question this essentialism and contribute to a more tolerant, open-minded, and self-reflective society. Hence, as a historian, I've been trying to support and strengthen an engaged and enlightened historiography that bolsters a range of progressive identifications without leading to essentialist constructions of collective identities.

Stefan's book list on why identity issues are so hot in history

Why did Stefan love this book?

Powerful class identities were formed over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in a range of industrial countries. In the motherland of the industrial revolution, in Britain, those constructions of class were particularly strong among particular occupations. Miners were often seen as the vanguard of class-conscious proletarians the closely-knit mining communities in different parts of the UK seemed to many observers to represent an alternative solidaristic society in the making. This book traces the ruthless destruction of these mining communities in Britain by the neoliberal governments of Margaret Thatcher and is in many respects a tribute to these communities and their values.

By Huw Beynon, Ray Hudson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shadow of the Mine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No one personified the age of industry more than the miners. The Shadow of the Mine tells the story of King Coal in its heyday - and what happened to mining communities after the last pits closed. Coal was central to the British economy, powering its factories and railways. It carried political weight, too. In the eighties the miners risked everything in a year-long strike against Thatcher's shutdowns. Defeat foretold the death of their industry. Tens of thousands were cast onto the labour market with a minimum amount of advice and support. Yet British politics all of a sudden revolves…

Weeping Britannia

By Thomas Dixon,

Book cover of Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears

Susie Steinbach Author Of Understanding the Victorians: Politics, Culture and Society in Nineteenth-Century Britain

From the list on will make you love Victorian Britain.

Who am I?

I'm a historian. But I’ve never been interested in Parliamentary debates, or important politicians. I’m much more interested in things like gender and entertainment. I always say that a lot more people have sex than become prime minister, so it makes more sense to study marriage than high politics! I like to learn about ordinary people, living their lives and loving their families, working and surviving, and trying to have a little fun along the way. I also love history of more fun and glamorous things—celebrities and scandals and spectacles and causes célèbres, hit plays, and best-selling novels. I have history degrees from Harvard and Yale and I’ve been publishing on nineteenth-century British history since 2000.

Susie's book list on will make you love Victorian Britain

Why did Susie love this book?

I was looking for books on the history of emotions and this is one of the best!

Dixon demonstrates that the infamous British “stiff upper lip” is a lot more recent and a lot less timeless than most people think. I learned that until the late 1800s men could cry—in public no less—without anyone thinking less of them! Food for thought.

By Thomas Dixon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Weeping Britannia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a persistent myth about the British: that we are a nation of stoics, with stiff upper lips, repressed emotions, and inactive lachrymal glands. Weeping Britannia - the first history of crying in Britain - comprehensively debunks this myth.

Far from being a persistent element in the 'national character', the notion of the British stiff upper lip was in fact the product of a relatively brief and militaristic period of our past, from about 1870 to 1945. In earlier times we were a nation of proficient, sometimes virtuosic moral weepers. To illustrate this perhaps surprising fact, Thomas Dixon charts…

There Will Be Fire

By Rory Carroll,

Book cover of There Will Be Fire: Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, and Two Minutes That Changed History

Mark Bulik Author Of Ambush at Central Park: When the IRA Came to New York

From the list on the Irish Republican Army from the 1920s to 1990s.

Who am I?

I grew up in one of America’s most heavily Irish areas, outside Philadelphia. After Northern Ireland exploded in 1969, IRA gunrunning cases made the local news, and came up in conversations – one friend told me his ancestors smuggled weapons in the 1920s. So I was hooked when I ran across a vivid 1922 account of an IRA shooting in Manhattan, splashed on the front page of The New York Times, my employer. My first book was about Irish rebel gunmen, the Molly Maguires of the Pennsylvania coal fields, where my Irish ancestors were miners. I’ve given lectures about the IRA’s American activities at conferences in Cork and California. 

Mark's book list on the Irish Republican Army from the 1920s to 1990s

Why did Mark love this book?

We know from the start that the British prime minister survived the IRA bomb explosion at a Conservative Party conference in Brighton, but that doesn’t lessen the tension in this fine history of the incident.

Rory Carroll gives us nuanced portraits of Thatcher and the bomb maker who tried to kill her. This tale of an overseas attack by the IRA really resonated with me because that’s what “Ambush at Central Park” is all about – and my book includes a chapter about the involvement of some of the IRA gunmen in New York in a plot to assassinate members of the British Cabinet more than sixty years before the explosion that nearly killed Thatcher.

By Rory Carroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked There Will Be Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A race-against-the-clock narrative that finally illuminates a history-changing event: the IRA’s attempt to assassinate Margaret Thatcher and the epic manhunt that followed.

    A bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army exploded at 2:54 a.m. on October 12, 1984. It was the last day of the Conservative Party Conference at the Grand Hotel in the coastal town of Brighton, England. Rooms were obliterated, dozens of people wounded, five killed. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in her suite when the explosion occurred; had she been just a few feet in another direction, flying tiles and masonry would have sliced her to ribbons.…

Live from Number Ten

By Michael Cockerell,

Book cover of Live from Number Ten: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television

Richard Toye Author Of Winston Churchill: A Life in the News

From the list on sidelights on British politics.

Who am I?

Richard Toye is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. He has published 19 non-fiction books on historical topics and was the co-presenter of the 2018 Channel 4 documentary Churchill's Secret Affair. In 2007 he won the Times Higher Education Young Academic of the Year Award for his book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness

Richard's book list on sidelights on British politics

Why did Richard love this book?

This is the book that really turned me on to political history – though I suppose I must have been interested already, or my parents wouldn’t have bought it for me for my fourteenth birthday! It’s a fairly light read, but it’s a great way of learning the outlines of what happened in British politics in the thirty-odd years after 1945. When it was published it still seemed as though Margaret Thatcher would be Prime Minister forever …

By Michael Cockerell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live from Number Ten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As BBC's "Panorama's" chief political reporter for 13 years, Michael Cockerell won three major television awards. Apart from this book he also made a two-part documentary on television and Number 10. His previous book is "Sources Close to the Prime Minister".

One Hundred Days

By Sandy Woodward,

Book cover of One Hundred Days: The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander

James G. Stavridis Author Of To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision

From the list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure.

Who am I?

I am a retired 4-star Admiral who spent over forty years at sea, rising from Midshipman at the Naval Academy to Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. Along the way, I served in and commanded destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers in combat, and I have faced many very difficult decisions under extreme pressure. In addition, I’ve been in the Pentagon for many assignments, including as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense – which also created countless high-pressure decisions. What I learned in the Navy has helped me again and again in calculating risk and making the right decisions. 

James' book list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure

Why did James love this book?

A brilliant and harrowing depiction of the kind of full-on, high-stress decisions made in the furious hours of combat in the deep south Atlantic Ocean as Great Britain sought to recapture the Falkland Islands from Argentina, which had seized them. There is no finer example of decision-making by a senior commander at sea in modern combat. As a strike group commander myself decades later in the Afghan and Iraqi wars, this book was invaluable to me in learning how to make hard decisions.

By Sandy Woodward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Hundred Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by the man who masterminded the British victory in the Falklands, this engrossing memoir chronicles events in the spring of 1982 following Argentina's takeover of the South Atlantic islands. Adm. Sandy Woodward, a brilliant military tactician, presents a complete picture of the British side of the battle. From the defeat of the Argentine air forces to the sinking of the Belgrano and the daring amphibious landing at Carlos Water, his inside story offers a revealing account of the Royal Navy's successes and failures.

At times reflective and personal, Woodward imparts his perceptions, fears, and reactions to seemingly disastrous events.…

Accounting for Murder

By Emma Lathen,

Book cover of Accounting for Murder

Terrie Farley Moran Author Of Murder, She Wrote: Killer on the Court

From the list on cozy mysteries featuring sleuths of a certain age.

Who am I?

My parents were avid readers and mysteries were a perennial favorite for all of us. By my early teens I moved from Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew to the Golden Age of mystery writers such as Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Clearly addicted to mysteries without undue violence or gore, I discovered some wonderful television series as well. It won’t surprise you to learn that my favorite is Murder, She Wrote. 

Terrie's book list on cozy mysteries featuring sleuths of a certain age

Why did Terrie love this book?

My first grown-up job was as an assistant in the Investment Review Department of a major bank, so I was over the moon when I discovered this series. John Putnam Thatcher, Senior Vice President in charge of the Trust Department of The Sloan, often found that finance and crime meshed. I would look at the stuffy Vice Presidents that I worked with and I didn’t believe any of them would have the curiosity and the deductive reasoning to solve a numerical discrepancy much less a murder. John Putnam Thatcher, who is always a banker and a detective as required, was my dream boss.

By Emma Lathen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Accounting for Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New fully edited version and afterword. 3rd of 37 best selling Emma Lathen mysteries featuring SVP of the Sloan Guaranty Trust, John Putnam Thatcher, who gets to the bottom of things by cutting through various business goings on, a famous accountant who swooped down on a company to examine the books, dissident shareholders, community groups, and others to examine the financial motives in order to nail the killer. A humorous romp for those who like humor and good writing in their mysteries. Called the American Agatha Christie and Nero Wolfe with Portfolio by the New York Times.

Margaret Thatcher

By Charles Moore,

Book cover of Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography: From Grantham to the Falklands

Judith Lissauer Cromwell Author Of Florence Nightingale, Feminist

From the list on biographies of women who made a difference.

Who am I?

I’ve always been captivated by stories about powerful women. After a corporate career as one of the first female executives in the international world of Wall Street, while raising two children as a single working parent, I returned to academia. I am a magna cum laude graduate of Smith College, hold a doctorate in modern European history, with academic distinction, from New York University. I wanted to ascertain whether the mostly male writers of history were correct in attributing the success of exceptional women to the bedroom. Meticulous research yielded a different narrative, one I delight in sharing.

Judith's book list on biographies of women who made a difference

Why did Judith love this book?

Impressively researched, elegantly written, and sprinkled with dry humor, Moore’s account is an even-handed portrait of a remarkable woman who turned her sex and her humble background from handicaps into assets, and used her outstanding political skills to become a driving force in twentieth-century British history.  The author addresses his polarizing subject’s inconsistencies, and her bizarre yet conventional personality, to present a multidimensional picture of Britain’s first female prime minister.

By Charles Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Margaret Thatcher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not For Turning is the first volume of Charles Moore's authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era.

Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, published after her death on 8 April 2013, immediately supersedes all earlier books written about her. At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which…

An Extraordinary Time

By Marc Levinson,

Book cover of An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy

Benjamin C. Waterhouse Author Of Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA

From the list on why corporations are powerful but economy stinks.

Who am I?

I’m a professor of modern U.S. History and have written books explaining the political and cultural power of corporations, lobbyists, and business people in American life. To me, the signal event of recent history was when the rapid economic growth that followed WWII ended in the 1970s. From globalization and deindustrialization to the rise of authoritarianism under the guise of populism, from systemic racism and the rise of the carceral state to the proliferation of bad jobs and the gig economy—the effects of that historic change shape every aspect of modern life. But this topic can sometimes seem a little dry, so I’m always looking for books that help make sense of it.

Benjamin's book list on why corporations are powerful but economy stinks

Why did Benjamin love this book?

Levinson is a rare thing among economists: he is willing to admit what we don’t understand.

This book argues that global productivity declined in the 1970s compared to the 30 years after World War II, and no one knows why. It seems that, under capitalism, economic growth is normally just very slow, and the fast postwar growth was the aberration. But what really matters is how political leaders responded, making a series of bad decisions to try to appease people’s over-inflated expectations of growth. And this happened all over the world, from the U.S. to Germany to Japan to Latin America. This is the book that let me understand every aspect of modern life in the last 50 years—from stagnant wages to the roller-coaster casino economy to political dysfunction to gig companies.

By Marc Levinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Extraordinary Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Washington Post and Strategy+Business Book of the Year.

Stagnant wages. Feeble growth figures. An angry, disillusioned public. The early 1970s witnessed the arrival of the problems that define the twenty-first century.

In An Extraordinary Time, Marc Levinson investigates how the oil crisis of the 1970s marked a radical turning point in global economics: and paved the way for the political and financial troubles of the present. Tracing the remarkable transformation of the global economy in the years after World War II, Levinson explores how decades of spectacular economic growth ended almost overnight - giving way to an era of…

Warrior Queens

By Antonia Fraser,

Book cover of Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations to War

Pamela D. Toler Author Of Women Warriors: An Unexpected History

From the list on women in war.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by the concept of women warriors ever since I was a nerdy kid who read every biography of famous women I could get my hands—and I've been collecting their stories almost as long. Today I write historical non-fiction that puts women back into the story, whether it's women warriors, civil war nurses, or groundbreaking journalists. The impact of this can be profound. When we re-introduce overlooked populations into history, we get a very different story.

Pamela's book list on women in war

Why did Pamela love this book?

In many ways, Antonia Fraser's Warrior Queens spurred my long-term interest in women warriors. Fraser not only introduced me to historical women I had never heard of, but to the idea that women had fought as a normal part of the army in far more epochs and far more civilizations than is normally appreciated. Fraser looks at her warring queens as a group as well as individually, trying to understand the tropes that (mostly male) historians have used both to make them bigger than life and to demean them as women. A fascinating read that has held up well over time.

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Warrior Queens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this panoramic work of history, Lady Antonia Fraser looks at women who led armies and empires: Cleopatra, Isabella of Spain, Jinga Mbandi, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi, among others.

Killing Thatcher

By Rory Carroll,

Book cover of Killing Thatcher: The IRA, the Manhunt and the Long War on the Crown

Andrew Gumbel Author Of Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed--And Why It Still Matters

From Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Journalist Storyteller Investigator

Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Andrew love this book?

Carroll tells the thrilling and appalling story of how the IRA plotted and came very close to decapitating the British government by blowing up the seaside hotel housing Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet colleagues during a Conservative Party conference in 1984.

Students of history will find dozens of new insights and explanations of what the IRA was thinking and how it mounted the plot.

The rest of us are offered a thrilling read that is also a meditation on history, memory, and the long-term consequences of political violence.

By Rory Carroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Killing Thatcher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Irish Times No.1 Bestseller
A New Statesman 'Best Book of 2023 so far'
'As taut as a fictional thriller' Mail on Sunday
'Gripping, detailed and richly layered' Guardian

The gripping account of how the IRA came astonishingly close to killing Margaret Thatcher

KILLING THATCHER is the gripping account of how the IRA came astonishingly close to killing Margaret Thatcher and to wiping out the British Cabinet - an extraordinary assassination attempt linked to the Northern Ireland Troubles and the most daring conspiracy against the Crown since the Gunpowder Plot.

In this fascinating and compelling book, veteran journalist Rory Carroll…


By Oleg Gordievsky, Christopher Andrew,

Book cover of KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev

Taylor Downing Author Of 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink

From the list on Cold War mysteries.

Who am I?

Taylor Downing is a historian, writer, and television producer. He has written several best-selling books and has produced more than 200 television documentaries many of which have won awards. Taylor is currently researching and writing a new book on a little-known crisis in World War Two, due for publication in 2022.

Taylor's book list on Cold War mysteries

Why did Taylor love this book?

A deeply revealing insight into the mysterious world of the Soviet secret service written as a collaboration between a top Cambridge historian and a senior KGB officer who was a double agent working for the British MI6. It tells us not only what the KGB got up to but, equally important, how the senior KGB leaders thought. It opens up the paranoia at the top of the Soviet system.

By Oleg Gordievsky, Christopher Andrew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked KGB as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This history of the world's largest and most powerful intelligence service, the KGB, from its origin after the Russian revolution to the present day, analyzes its operations against subjects as diverse as the EEC, Margaret Thatcher, Solidarity and Libya. This study also provides an insight into Gorbachev's relations with the KGB and examines the disintegration of the Soviet bloc. Christopher Andrew has also written "Secret Service". Gordievsky was a KGB colonel who worked for British intelligence as a penetration agent in the KGB from 1974. He escaped to the West in 1985.