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In the first major biography of Mohandas K. Gandhi in over twenty years, Yogesh Chadha creates a complex, compelling, and beautifully rounded portrait of one of the monumental figures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This definitive new work is the culmination of eight years of writing and research, during which Chadha had complete access to Gandhi's voluminous writings and government papers only recently made available.
Gandhi: A Life rescues the man from the myth. It reveals the transformation of an ordinary, timid young man into a leader whose stand against a mighty empire brought millions together. From the poor and the illiterate to the intelligentsia and the rich, Gandhi's followers forged a sustained, nonviolent movement for independence.
When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869, India was divided. British India, ruled by the Viceroy from Delhi, stood in stark contrast to the other India, a checkerboard of hundreds of princely states, royal instruments without political power. It was in one of these states, Porbandar, that Gandhi came of age, the youngest of three sons and a daughter of the dewan (prime minister) and his fourth wife. From his father, Gandhi inherited stubbornness, incorruptibility, and great practical sense; from his mother, a life of religion, devotion, and asceticism.
Shortly before his nineteenth birthday, Gandhi--by then a husband and father of several years--set sail from Bombay to England to study law; shortly thereafter, he traveled to South Africa to practice. An outsider, the young barrister tasted firsthand the bitter fruits of class prejudice, racial intolerance, and colonial oppression. At the same time, his pursuit of spiritual fulfillment and a keen curiosity about the world's diverse religions nourished Gandhi's own deeply felt convictions, pointing him toward the path along which he would guide India to independence.
In a work of far-reaching scope and revealing intimacy, Yogesh Chadha never loses sight of the man amidst the epic swirl of history. As he explores the key events in Gandhi's intellectual, spiritual, and political development, Chadha writes with total frankness, never shying away from the weaknesses and the more controversial aspects of both Gandhi's public and personal lives, including struggles with sexuality and celibacy. In addition, he exposes in depth for the first time the extraordinary events surrounding Gandhi's assassination, its planning and execution, and the subsequent trial.
Here is a magnificent biography that approaches its legendary subject with honesty and admiration--and without preconceptions. Gandhi: A Life is a brilliantly constructed and inspiring work.
"The first major biography to appear for twenty years . . . with] a depth and authority which others have lacked."--The Independent (London).
"A compelling portrait . . . reveals that saints can be hell to live with."--The Mail on Sunday (London).
" Yogesh Chadha] presents, in a sober and lucid fashion, the whole man, warts and all. The result is an impressive tour de force, a portrait infinitely more complex and contradictory than any before . . . outstanding." --The Scotsman.
"An outstanding reappraisal of an extraordinary man." --Irish Independent