The first volume of a magisterial biography: the definitive portrait of the life and work of one of the most abidingly influential--and controversial--men in modern history.
Here is a revelatory work of biography that takes us from Gandhi's birth in 1869 through his upbringing in Gujarat, his 2 years as a student in London, and his 2 decades as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa. Ramachandra Guha has uncovered a myriad of previously untapped documents, including: private papers of Gandhi's contemporaries and co-workers; contemporary newspapers and court documents; the writings of Gandhi's children; secret files kept by British Empire functionaries. Using this wealth of material in a brilliantly nuanced narrative, Guha describes the social, political and personal worlds in which Gandhi began his journey to become the modern era's most important and influential political actor. And Guha makes clear that Gandhi's work in South Africa--far from being a mere prelude to his accomplishments in India--was profoundly influential on his evolution as a political thinker, social reformer and beloved leader.
This first volume in a two-part biography of Gandhi from Guha (India After Gandhi) proves itself an essential work for its bold purpose, extensive research, and engaging prose. Seeking to address scholarly reliance on the Mahatma's own writings, Guha looks to a broader range of primary sources, including both Gandhi's allies and detractors, to explore his "less known and sometimes forgotten" early career. We experience Mohandas Gandhi as he lived and evolved into an "authentically global" prophet of peace, engaged in a process of "dialogue and reconciliation" with a conflicted world. Much of the book chronicles Gandhi's rise to prominence in South Africa, where he arrived as a multilingual barrister capable of translating between the British and the Indian diaspora. This ability to bridge communities became a foundation for the "unique spirit of ecumenism" that Gandhi developed into a passive resistance philosophy supported by both Eastern and Western precedents. His religious journey was paramount, as he grew beyond the orthodox Hinduism and dietary restrictions of his caste by incorporating perspectives from the Christians, Muslims, Jews, and vegetarians (the Vegetarian Society was his primary social outlet) he befriended throughout his career. Through this excellent volume, Guha demonstrates his deep affinity for the Mahatma with an honest examination of his personal development. Maps & illus.