When I went to Oxford in 1978, I had looked forward to spending many weekends in London, one of the great metropolises in all of history. But after an initial visit, I rarely returned. Outside of a few well-known precincts it was a shabby city. But even worse than its appearance was the general sense of lassitude, even paralysis. For instance, it was hard to find places to sell you the simplest groceries outside of very strict business hours. And I was always worried about getting back to Oxford. Industrial action in the form of railway and tube strikes could occur at any time. The economic and spiritual climate of the country was as dismal as its fall and winter weather.
But now London is again one of the great cities of the world, vibrant, innovative and resplendent. One woman is responsible for the transformation of the city and the nation of which it is the capital. That is why it is such a wonderful event to have a superb new biography of her glory years by Charles Moore: Margaret Thatcher at Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow. The book shows why she is one of the rare leaders who transfigured her nation for decades, if not centuries to come. The comparison is less to other British Prime Ministers, but to other transformative world leaders, like Peter the Great or Ataturk. And what separates Thatcher from those leaders is not only her sex, but her democratic methods. She was able to accomplish her goals while persuading fickle and shifting popular opinion.
In this volume Moore details the manner in which Thatcher replaced the state with the market in occupying the commanding heights of the economy.
Many environmental problems are exaggerated. Water scarcity is not. If anything, water supply problems are ignored. Inefficient water allocations and deteriorating urban infrastructure cannot compete with charismatic megafauna in direct-mail appeals. Yet water scarcity is a serious environmental concern. Water is essential to life, we are repeatedly told, and it is woefully mismanaged throughout much of the world. Though naturally abundant and readily reusable, fresh water is often in short supply where needed most. Access to water may be heralded as a public right, but it can be costly to provide and protect. Water is also a source of conflict,…