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Gandhi: An Autobiography - The Story of My Experiments With Truth Paperback – November 1, 1993
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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
“Here is an autobiography more captivating than fiction and more stimulating than romantic adventure. It is the most revealing study of the human soul that I have ever read.”
—The Christian Century
“An absorbing book that stands alone in frankness and plain honesty...Its place among the classics of autobiography cannot be in doubt.”
—The New Statesman
“An amazingly frank self-revelation of the greatest and humblest modern man.”
“It is...only by reading the whole long and detailed day-by-day record that readers can sense the magic of Gandhi’s being and discover him fully.”
“(Gandhi’s) autobiography remains invaluable for its account of the shaping of a new path to collective resistance to injustice.”
—From the foreword by Sissela Bok
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But, this book was just plain hard to read. The style was more like reading legislation than reading a life story. That probably makes sense, given Gandhi's educational training. This style might work for a short, thoughtful treatise on a specific topic. But, 500+ pages in this style was just too much.
I finally did get through the book. I would like to say that it was worth it, to get to know Gandhi better. And, that might be true if this book was the only way to get to know Gandhi, but it's not. There are many other sources to learn about him. I think it would be better to chose one of the others.
Still, his determination and fight for Indians to be treated equally was inspirational. His peaceful protests are what eventually inspired Martin Luther King and, to a point, Nelson Mandela, fight for the rights of blacks in America (King) and South Africa (Mandela). So for that, and for refusing to accept the racist status quo for his people, Gandhi was an inspiration.