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Gandhi's Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi Paperback – November 28, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019515634X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195156348
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wolpert, a professor emeritus in South Asian history at UCLA, is well versed in the politics of India and has written numerous books on that country and its neighbor Pakistan. His new work is not so much a book on how Gandhi came to be the Mahatma, or India's "Great Soul," but a chronicle of India's independence movement after WWI and the communal violence that led to the 1947 partition along religious lines. The most absorbing part of the book shows how Gandhi's legal training at Inner Temple in London and his work to protect the rights of Indians in South Africa at the turn of the century led to his agitation for Home Rule in India. Wolpert skillfully uses Gandhi's own writings there are 90 volumes of his collected works and descriptions of meetings and travels to organize mass passive resistance, including boycotts and marches, to explain how Gandhi's nonviolent resistance, or Satyagraha, essentially forced the British to grant dominion status to 300 million Indians. However, Wolpert does not convincingly illustrate how Gandhi came to believe in nonviolence and how he transformed himself from a rich Anglophile and lawyer into a near-godlike figure who valued equality, self-control, celibacy and the relinquishing of wealth and desires. Wolpert touches on the fact that Gandhi's transformation alienated his children and wife (whom he married at age 11) even while he expressed an "intensely personal passion" for various Western missionaries and forced some ashram devotees to sleep by him naked. By supplying more detail than useful analysis, Wolpert's effort is ultimately disappointing, and, in the end, Gandhi remains a recognizable but cryptic figure.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Wolpert (South Asian history, emeritus, UCLA) has written biographies of Indian freedom fighters Jinnah (Jinnah of Pakistan) and Nehru (Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny). While his life of Gandhi is well written, one has to ask why yet another biography of the Father of India? There is no burning issue or question that he raises, nor a great new insight into Gandhi that has not already been discussed in previous biographies. In the introduction, Wolpert notes that the news of the nuclear explosions in India in 1998 prompted him to undertake this book on the apostle of nonviolence. What he has produced, however, is yet another general biography of one of the most remarkable men of the 20th century. Only libraries collecting in depth on India need consider this title, which does not supplant Gandhi studies by Erik Ericsson, Louis Fischer, or B.R. Nanda. Donald Clay Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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The book seems rather repetitive going back to events and ideas several times.
Barbara Lesperance
Each book I read about Ghandi I also learn about the Author, history but mostly about one of our most loved men.
NYLA
"Gandhi's Passion" will give the reader a crisp view of the complex man and his times.
Bohdan Kot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on July 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an uneven and oddly structured biography of Mahatma Gandhi. The author is well-versed in Gandhi's letters, books and speeches, from which he quotes at length to tell the story of Gandhi's amazing personal life and political career. He is less successful, however, at painting in the background information needed to make sense of all the details. Readers unfamiliar with Hinduism, untouchability, Hindu/Muslim communal relations, Congress Party politics, or Britain's imperial system would have a hard time making sense of the narrative. For specialists only.
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Dinesh Hassan on July 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Good biographies, especially the scholarly kind, invite us to reconstruct or at least revise our estimate of the subject of the biography. Stanley Wolpert, an eminent scholar of Indian history, who acquired quite a bit of notoriety in India by publishing what now sounds like an innocuous novel about Gandhi called Nine Hours to Rama (1966), has now revisited the Mahatma by writing a biography which is neither hagiographical like so many memoirs and the Government of India financed movie of Gandhi’s life by Attenborough nor dismissive like the estimate of the man and his message offered by the likes of Arthur Koestler. Wolpert looks at Gandhi as Hindu Indians would wish to see him, as a yogi whose accomplishments as a prophet of nonviolent revolution changed the world’s ways of looking at the discourse of power. The habit of automatically associating Gandhi with saintliness has kept most writers about him bound to the notion of glorifying him or glossing over his weaknesses which were many and substantial. Now fifty-three years after his death, being in possession of greater knowledge about the man, his strength, and many unwise and vain activities, we find it tempting, urged by Wolpert’s narrative to speculate on how things might have turned out for India in particular and the world in general had the Mahatma (the great souled one) possessed greater self-awareness or his nature were less paradoxical, the contradictions in his character preventing him from gaining the kind of influence on India, perhaps making it imperative for his country to adhere to most of his unquestionably valid basic moral principles.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anand Velayudhan on January 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overwhelmed by the hundreds of books already available scrutinizing, criticizing and or eulogizing the controversial life of Gandhi, Wolpert's dilemma when he thought of writing a book about Gandhi was what would he write that others have not written yet. Nevertheless, after so much introspection he has decided to write this book tempted by the significance of Gandhi's teachings in the wake of India's nuclear test of 1998. But, unfortunately, his attempt is falling woefully short of providing any new information on the life of Gandhi or is unable to challenge a critical mind on the life of one of the great and yet controversial figures of the 20th century.

In his work, Wolpert portrays a dutiful Gandhi of esteemed ideas and vision. But by often succumbing to Gandhi's saintly aura, Wolpert is unable to provide valuable insight from a historian's perspective on the circumstances and events leading to the spiritual development of Gandhi that we saw in him starting in South Africa, a topic that not many historians (may be except Judith Brown) tried their hands on and succeeded. Without any analysis of that sort, his work is nothing but yet another addition to the mundane category of political biography of Gandhi.

Contrary to the popular belief that Gandhi is the culprit for the partition, Wolpert has given many proofs from history for how the partition could not have been avoided despite Gandhi's many overtures and thus was absolving Gandhi completely from the crime. While that should be the right thing to do, Wolpert is also pointing out Gandhi's reluctance to listen to C.R. Das's (one of Gandhi's staunch supporters) candid and most plausible plea to Gandhi to accept Jinnah's proposal and work towards a peaceful partition.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bohdan Kot on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Stanley Wolpert looks behind the enigmatic icon of India's "Great Soul" and paints a lucid picture of what motivates Gandhi to invite suffering for political, religious and environmental causes? The historian offers numerous interesting insights that are gleaned from Gandhi's privileged childhood, barrister days, and early campaigns in South Africa. Wolpert dissection of various clues reveals how he became a living god. Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism were early influences that lead him to develop a philosophy of nonviolence.

Wolpert exposes inner conflicts that plagued Gandhi while he maintained the difficult road of "ahimsa" (nonviolent love). One such inner conflict was his battle with lust (a naked Gandhi slept besides his assistants). However, Gandhi's faith in "ahimsa" for India and the world proved to be stronger.

Fasting, imprisonment, boycotts were some of the peaceful weapons he imposed. Behind every action was a message of love and peace. Gandhi's vision to free India, banish untouchability, and make India viable rested on a crux notion: there is no gain through the horrors of modern war and power. The frail thin man warns, "Retaliation is no remedy. It makes the original disease much worse." Gandhi's legacy list luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and countless other leaders. Wolpert's biography is a page-turner that competes with the best of fiction. "Gandhi's Passion" will give the reader a crisp view of the complex man and his times.

Bohdan Kot
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