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Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – June 7, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Very Short Introductions (Book 37)
  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (June 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854575
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.4 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"An excellent intro for first-time western students of Gandhi and India."--Prakash Chenjen, Southern Oregon University


About the Author


Bhikhu Parekh is Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics at the University of Hull.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
For those seeking a very brief introduction to Gandhi's life and thought, this ought to do the trick. At one point in my life I read intensely if briefly about Gandhi, reading a couple of dozen books by and on him. This book would not break into the books that I would most recommend, but it would be one that I would recommend as a possible first book. Parekh has a deep understanding of the context of Gandhi's thought, which was not purely Indian despite being largely grounded in Hinduism, with major outside influences.

The book is stronger on Gandhi's thought than his life. The biographical details are, in fact, quite minimal, but many books emphasize Gandhi the person so much more than Gandhi the thinker, this is a welcome correction. Although anyone wanting to know about Gandhi should immediately go on from this to read a good biography on Gandhi (the classic biography by Louis Fischer remains a great first read about Gandhi, though the best English language biography is that by Judith Brown), as well as Gandhi's own so-called autobiography, this gives one a glimpse into what made Gandhi click.

Anyone wanting to know about Gandhi should plan minimally on reading as well an anthology of Gandhi's own writings in addition to the autobiography (the three-volume edition edited by Iyer is the best), as well as the aforementioned books by Fischer and Brown. I also strongly recommend the book on Gandhi by Ved Mehta, which is deeply insightful and refutes many Western misunderstandings of his thought. Gandhi is one of the most inspirational figures of the past century. The impact on my own life has been considerable. It was because of him that I became a vegetarian and through his reverence for life I became deeply interested in showing respect for all humans and nonhumans.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on November 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known throughout the world as Mahatma ("Great Soul") Gandhi is one of the foremost political figures of the twentieth century and one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time. He is credited for the development of the satyagraha - a combination of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience - that has been crucial for India's struggle for independence. He had conceived of the political struggle essentially in terms of spiritual and religious terms, and had striven his whole life to make the political struggle an extension of an internal spiritual one.

Like with most historic figures of Gandhi's stature, it can sometimes be very hard to distinguish myth from reality and create a balanced and critical appraisal of his personal strengths and weaknesses. Nonetheless this short introduction does a remarkable job of doing just that. It also manages in my mind to clear any doubts that despite some of his "weaknesses," Gandhi is truly deserving of the highest esteem that he has been held. No short introduction can do a full justice to its subject, but in terms of quality of writing and the variety of topics in Gandhi's life and work this one comes as close as this format allows it. The book is a pleasure to read, and even if you are not interested in Gandhi in his own right you will most likely enjoy reading this short introduction.

One of the most controversial topics in today's political discourse is the proper role of religion in public life. With that in mind I think it would be important to quote a paragraph from this book that describes Gandhi's attitude to the matters of religion and politics:

"For Gandhi, religion was the basis of life and shaped all one's activities.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Moeglein on October 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
The first half or so of the book is dedicated to a chronological biography. The second half has sections dedicated to the different facets of Gandhi's contributions.

Not only was Gandhi a remarkable man, but I think Parekh does his memory justice with an equally thoughtful and evenhanded treatment of his legacy.

Well done!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was one of the best Very Short Introductions I've read. The author did an excellent job distilling Gandhis life and philosophy to around 140 pages. I discovered that I need to read more books about or by Gandhi. I agree with approximately 75% of his political and "spiritual" views. His views on human dignity, non-violence, non-compulsion, and the importance of agency all strike a chord with me.
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