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Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth Paperback – November 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (November 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807059099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807059098
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gandhi's nonviolent struggles in South Africa and India had already brought him to such a level of notoriety, adulation, and controversy that when asked to write an autobiography midway through his career, he took it as an opportunity to explain himself. Although accepting of his status as a great innovator in the struggle against racism, violence, and, just then, colonialism, Gandhi feared that enthusiasm for his ideas tended to exceed a deeper understanding. He says that he was after truth rooted in devotion to God and attributed the turning points, successes, and challenges in his life to the will of God. His attempts to get closer to this divine power led him to seek purity through simple living, dietary practices (he called himself a fruitarian), celibacy, and ahimsa, a life without violence. It is in this sense that he calls his book The Story of My Experiments with Truth, offering it also as a reference for those who would follow in his footsteps. A reader expecting a complete accounting of his actions, however, will be sorely disappointed.

Although Gandhi presents his episodes chronologically, he happily leaves wide gaps, such as the entire satyagraha struggle in South Africa, for which he refers the reader to another of his books. And writing for his contemporaries, he takes it for granted that the reader is familiar with the major events of his life and of the political milieu of early 20th-century India. For the objective story, try Yogesh Chadha's Gandhi: A Life. For the inner world of a man held as a criminal by the British, a hero by Muslims, and a holy man by Hindus, look no further than these experiments. --Brian Bruya

From the Publisher

All royalties earned on this book are paid to the Navajivan Trust, founded by Gandhi, for use in carrying on his work.

Customer Reviews

Love would call us to that.
a gentle sound
I first read this book in its Tamil translation back in my school days for a local competition.
Muthu Prakash
This classic tells the story of Gandhi's experiments to express only truth.
J. Harwell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
In many ways, this is a somewhat unusual autobiography. It is as remarkable for what Gandhi decides to leave out as for what he includes. He obviously didn't intend to deal with every major event, and delve into every area. It is less a comprehensive narrative than it is a series of reflections on his life. Some have criticized the book because he often deals more intensely with questions about what kind of diet he would follow than many of the great historical achievements of his life. But Gandhi was who he was as an international figure because of who he was as an ethical individual. The moral seriousness with which he broods over his diet reveals a great deal about who he is as a person. As a side note, I should add that when I read this book, I had been thinking about becoming a vegetarian, and while I found no new arguments for doing so in this book, his moral example gave me the courage to do so.
The greatest quality about this book is one it shares with most of Gandhi's writing: when he writes you get the sense that he is giving us his unedited thoughts. During even the greatest crises in his struggle for Indian independence, Gandhi's writings have the quality of a transcription of what he is thinking. More than any figure I can think of, Gandhi revealed precisely what he was thinking. The almost complete lack of artifice in his writing is one of the most impressive aspects of his writing as a whole and of his autobiography in particular. One is struck by his honesty, by his humility, and by his intense, almost overwhelming, moral passion.
This is not a literary masterpiece. If one goes into it expecting it to rival such other autobiographies as Rousseau's CONFESSIONS or Nabokov's SPEAK, MEMORY or even Franklin's AUTOBIOGRAPHY, one will be disappointed.
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104 of 106 people found the following review helpful By rk on October 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in the spring of 1998 when I was home with a cold and fever, and I can say that it is one of the best things that ever happened to me. The events described in the book are a hundred years old, but Gandhi has a way of describing their essence which is timeless, and will grip you in a way that makes them entirely relevant to today's world. It made me wonder how the world might have been if people today only followed his ideas. But this is no boring lecture on politics or nonviolence. In fact quite the opposite - it is the sparkling story of a very special man told in his own words. We learn about truth and non-violence in the best way possible, by observing Gandhi's actions as he goes about matters small and big. It brought Gandhi to life in a very special way. I always admired his principles, but now feel closer to Gandhi the man. This is a first-hand account that cannot be ignored. My only regret was that the book ended much too soon (mid 1920's) and there was nothing to cover the rest of his life. I can think of no person of any age who would not be greatly enriched by this book. For the interested, I found the companion book "Satyagraha in South Africa" (also by Gandhi) to be just as good.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
There is a lot of discussion as to whether this book is actually an autobiography or not. I am not sure whether it is really a question relevant to the work, but it is probably relevant for people who want to decide whether or not to buy the book. So. It is a recounting by Gandhi of his life as it related to his search for truth. It is not a general autobiography, although you will find autobiographical details. It is also not a series of essays about truth-- Gandhi writes very personally about his search for truth, not necessarily about what he found there. I would say that an autobiography about this specific aspect of his life is a fair enough description.

The book is divided into many small chapters. It is clearly intended for a large audience and the chapters are largely able to stand on their own and simply written. Gandhi addresses issues such as food habits, comparative religion, political involvement, justice and the law, and chastity.

I found it quick and easy to read. I liked his voice as a writer very much. I had the feeling that he was not hiding or leading. He left the reader free to either agree or disagree with his actions and conclusions. Most writers in this space have neither the clarity nor the confidence exhibited in The Story of My Experiments With Truth. More, I enjoyed the book. The tone is often wry and sprightly, and as a whole it is very engaging to read. I might have wished that Gandhi had spent more time on some of the subjects, but that was not the purpose of the work.

Recommended for people with an interest in Gandhi, Indian/South African history, or spiritual exploration. The simple accessible style should make it available to a wide range of readers across virtually all age groups.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Lou Thomas on August 28, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From this book we can see that Gandhi took everything in his life, from the smallest details of his diet to the grandest political decisions, very, very seriously. He believed that only a blade of the purest metal could cut through illusion to reveal the underlying truth of a society and of a world. The key to this purity for Gandhi was integrity and consistency in every word and deed. If he made a promise to abstain from milk, or to support a particular political position, he would keep that vow even at the risk of his life.

This concept of integrity started from Gandhi's personal life and extended outward to each community and each nation that he touched with his message and with his political campaigns. When he worked to elevate the status of the Indian community in South Africa, he worked simultaneously to improve the sanitary habits and internal justice of that community, thereby ensuring that there was integrity not only in the nation of South Africa, but also in the Indian community itself. The same pattern can be seen in his work with the Champaran peasants ("ryots") to remove the crushing feudal tribute of indigo required of them by their landlord masters. As he led that campaign, he simultaneously established schools in the region and once again taught the rudiments of sanitation to the oppressed farmers. And of course his tireless campaign against untouchability, and his work to heal the rifts between Muslims and Hindus were both attempts to ensure the integrity of Indian society itself, which he considered a necessary part of attaining Indian independence from Britain, thereby helping to heal the inconsistency of colonialism at the global level, which in turn brought greater integrity to international relations.
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