Moore uses his freedom to good advantage. Although his depiction of Thatcher is generally sympathetic, he keeps his subject at arm’s length, and critical observations abound. One of the abiding themes of the book is that Thatcher, like her friend and fellow conservative, Ronald Reagan, had a genius for being underestimated. He includes the story of a political insider who assumed Thatcher was retaining very little of what he was telling her, only to discover that she had perfect recall of the complicated policy data he had shared.
But Moore adds that Thatcher was better at promoting ideas than generating them. “Strictly thinking, Mrs. Thatcher was ill equipped for intellectual battle,” he tells readers. “Despite the brisk efficiency for which she was renowned, she did not have an intellectually orderly mind; nor did she have an original one. Rather than developing ideas of her own, she was a sort of ‘stage-door Johnny’ for the ideas of others – admiring, overexcited. But this was not in fact, a handicap.” He quotes Thatcher adviser Alfred Sherman: “She wasn’t a woman of ideas... she was a woman of beliefs, and beliefs are better than ideas.”
Although Thatcher served as the first female prime minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990, Moore refers to her as “Mrs. Thatcher” throughout much of his narrative because “that is what people called her, and the word “Mrs.” was very important in their minds.”