When people attain a certain level of fame, their notable acts have been so exhaustively described and analysed that what we crave to know about them is the banal and everyday: what they might have in common with the rest of humanity, rather than what sets them apart. This is true of the Queen, for example. Much excitement is created by disclosures about what she has on her breakfast table, and the more normal her tastes, the greater the interest. This is even truer of Margaret Thatcher, not least because we already know as much as we need to about her political battles and legacy: not only were there volumes of her memoirs, but all her senior colleagues published their own accounts.
Yet as Charles Moore notes at the outset of his epic voyage around Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister was not just an intensely secretive person; her lack of interest in people’s characters extended to her own. Or, as he puts it, ‘Socrates famously said that the unexamined life is