- Hardcover: 576 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 23, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471243787
- ISBN-13: 978-0471243786
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,307,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gandhi: A Life Hardcover – February 23, 1998
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The aim of Gandhi: A Life as described by writer Yogesh Chadha is "[Reclaiming Gandhi] as a human being out of the many myths surrounding him." Chadha's method seems to consist mainly of a "frank" detailing of the Indian revolutionary leader's personal flaws. But the sheer amount of biographical data in this book is impressive. And the details of Gandhi's assassination in 1948 and the subsequent prosecution of his killers are extremely well researched.
In his introduction to the book, Chadha fleetingly suggests that Gandhi's significance to the liberation of India is overemphasized at the expense of his broader contributions to humanism, although the evidence presented later in the biography might indicate that the two are profoundly interconnected.
Making copious use of Gandhi's collected writings, Chadha presents a highly detailed portrait that lends new insight into one of the 20th century's most profound spiritual leaders.
From Kirkus Reviews
The first major biography in over 20 years of perhaps the most remarkable, and certainly one of the strangest men ever to exercise important political influence. Born in 1869, married, as was customary at that time, at the age of 13, sent over to London to become a barrister, Gandhi found his vocation when he went to South Africa to deal with a large case, and enlisted himself in the struggle against discrimination against Asians. There he learned many of the techniques he later used against the British, including satyagraha, the Force that is born of Truth and Love or non-violence. On his return to India in 1915, he criticized the indescribable filth of the country, the conspicuous wealth of the maharajahs, and the continuing discrimination against the untouchables. His campaigns against the conditions of the Indian workers and against the hated salt tax attracted huge support, and his strategy of noncooperation with the British landed him in jail. And yet for all his efforts, his fasts unto death to reconcile Hindu and Muslim, his continuing emphasis on nonviolence, when independence came in 1947, the partition of the country was accompanied by an orgy of blood-lettingand his own assassination at the hands of a Hindu extremist. Odd as he was, a small, unimposing man with no front teeth and spindly legs, a fanatical vegetarian who ceased marital relations with his wife at 36 and who believed that sex was only permissible for procreation, and whose knowledge of events outside India was limited, by the 1930s, as Nehru put it, Gandhi was India. It is perhaps the supreme example of the power of moral force in politics, and Chadha, an Indian businessman who has spent the past eight years researching and writing this book, lets the record, so far as possible, speak for itself. It is balanced, even-handed, and, like its subject, inspiring. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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The struggle against British rule in India is described in excellent detail. Also, I was interested to read how the Muslims forced a separation for Pakistan on receiving independence from Britain much against Gandhi's wishes. The brutality of the separation between the Hindus and Muslims frames the end of the book. This lends a violent and sad ending to a great success of non violent action.
At the end of course there is tragedy as Gandhi is assassinated. The author then spends two chapters detailing the plot, the assassins and their trial. Sad, but still interesting conclusion.
Hard to figure - the human race can produce a moral giant like Gandhi and the same human race can murder him...
Well worth a read.
This volume is a vastly more level-headed caricature of Gandhi, I am told. You get the distinct sense that this was a human being, not a saint as some have painted his life and being.
This is also a volume that takes one to the depths of issues like self-sacrifice, racism, conflict between people of different faith persuasions, oppression, the fight for freedom, transition, change, non-violence, the emergence of a nation (S.Africa, Pakistan and India) and death. The issues and the approaches to these issues are a pertinent today as they were during Gandhi's lifetime.
An arduous read for me, yet one I could not abandon. I urge you to do the same. Enjoy.