Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India

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Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India

by Joseph Lelyveld

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | April 3, 2012 | Trade Paperback |

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A highly original, stirring book on Mahatma Gandhi that deepens our sense of his achievements and disappointments-his success in seizing India's imagination and shaping its independence struggle as a mass movement, his recognition late in life that few of his followers paid more than lip service to his ambitious goals of social justice for the country's minorities, outcasts, and rural poor.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph Lelyveld shows in vivid, unmatched detail how Gandhi's sense of mission, social values, and philosophy of nonviolent resistance were shaped on another subcontinent-during two decades in South Africa-and then tested by an India that quickly learned to revere him as a Mahatma, or "Great Soul," while following him only a small part of the way to the social transformation he envisioned. The man himself emerges as one of history's most remarkable self-creations, a prosperous lawyer who became an ascetic in a loincloth wholly dedicated to political and social action. Lelyveld leads us step-by-step through the heroic-and tragic-last months of this selfless leader's long campaign when his nonviolent efforts culminated in the partition of India, the creation of Pakistan, and a bloodbath of ethnic cleansing that ended only with his own assassination.

India and its politicians were ready to place Gandhi on a pedestal as "Father of the Nation" but were less inclined to embrace his teachings. Muslim support, crucial in his rise to leadership, soon waned, and the oppressed untouchables-for whom Gandhi spoke to Hindus as a whole-produced their own leaders.

Here is a vital, brilliant reconsideration of Gandhi's extraordinary struggles on two continents, of his fierce but, finally, unfulfilled hopes, and of his ever-evolving legacy, which more than six decades after his death still ensures his place as India's social conscience-and not just India's.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: April 3, 2012

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307389952

ISBN - 13: 9780307389954

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India

by Joseph Lelyveld

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: April 3, 2012

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307389952

ISBN - 13: 9780307389954

About the Book

A vital, brilliant reconsideration of Gandhi's extraordinary struggles on two continents, of his fierce but unfulfilled hopes, and of his ever-evolving legacy, which ensures his place as one the world's most thoughtful social consciences.

Read from the Book

1 PROLOGUE: AN UNWELCOME VISITOR It was a brief only a briefless lawyer might have accepted. Mohandas Gandhi landed in South Africa as an untested, unknown twenty-three- year-old law clerk brought over from Bombay, where his effort to launch a legal career had been stalled for more than a year. His stay in the country was expected to be temporary, a year at most. Instead, a full twenty-one years elapsed before he made his final departure on July 14, 1914. By then, he was forty-four, a seasoned politician and negotiator, recently leader of a mass movement, author of a doctrine for such struggles, a pithy and prolific political pamphleteer, and more-a self-taught evangelist on matters spiritual, nutritional, even medical. That''s to say, he was well on his way to becoming the Gandhi India would come to revere and, sporadically, follow. None of that was part of the original job description. His only mission at the outset was to assist in a bitter civil suit between two Muslim trading firms with roots of their own in Porbandar, the small port on the Arabian Sea, in the northwest corner of today''s India, where he was born. All the young lawyer brought to the case were his fluency in English and Gujarati, his first language, and his recent legal training at the Inner Temple in London; his lowly task was to function as an interpreter, culturally as well as linguistically, between the merchant who engaged him and the merchant''s English attorney. Up to this point there was no eviden
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From the Publisher

A highly original, stirring book on Mahatma Gandhi that deepens our sense of his achievements and disappointments-his success in seizing India's imagination and shaping its independence struggle as a mass movement, his recognition late in life that few of his followers paid more than lip service to his ambitious goals of social justice for the country's minorities, outcasts, and rural poor.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph Lelyveld shows in vivid, unmatched detail how Gandhi's sense of mission, social values, and philosophy of nonviolent resistance were shaped on another subcontinent-during two decades in South Africa-and then tested by an India that quickly learned to revere him as a Mahatma, or "Great Soul," while following him only a small part of the way to the social transformation he envisioned. The man himself emerges as one of history's most remarkable self-creations, a prosperous lawyer who became an ascetic in a loincloth wholly dedicated to political and social action. Lelyveld leads us step-by-step through the heroic-and tragic-last months of this selfless leader's long campaign when his nonviolent efforts culminated in the partition of India, the creation of Pakistan, and a bloodbath of ethnic cleansing that ended only with his own assassination.

India and its politicians were ready to place Gandhi on a pedestal as "Father of the Nation" but were less inclined to embrace his teachings. Muslim support, crucial in his rise to leadership, soon waned, and the oppressed untouchables-for whom Gandhi spoke to Hindus as a whole-produced their own leaders.

Here is a vital, brilliant reconsideration of Gandhi's extraordinary struggles on two continents, of his fierce but, finally, unfulfilled hopes, and of his ever-evolving legacy, which more than six decades after his death still ensures his place as India's social conscience-and not just India's.

About the Author

Joseph Lelyveld's interest in Gandhi dates back to tours in India and South Africa as a correspondent for The New York Times, where he worked for nearly four decades, ending up as executive editor from 1994 to 2001. His book on apartheid, Move Your Shadow: South Africa, Black and White, won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. He is also the author of Omaha Blues: A Memory Loop. He lives in New York.

Editorial Reviews

“A revelation. . . . Lelyveld has restored human depth to the Mahatma.” —Hari Kunzru, The New York Times “Lelyveld shows us Gandhi in tight close-up, and he places the man in various frames of reference—social, political and religious—that allow us to understand and appreciate him not as a plaster saint but as a flesh-and-blood human who wrote himself into history, and not only because of his shimmering vision of a more perfect world but also because of his sheer force of will.” —Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times   “Lelyveld brings . . . an intimate knowledge based on his years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times in both South Africa and India and the exhaustive research he conducted with a rare and finely balanced sympathy. . . . The picture that emerges is of someone intensely human, with all the defects and weaknesses that suggests, but also a visionary with a profound social conscience and courage who gave the world a model for nonviolent revolution that is still inspiring.” —Anita Desai, The New York Review of Books   “Rather than focus on Gandhi’s chronology, Lelyveld slices through his life to understand his compulsions, read into his thought processes, and assess his actions and outcomes, maintaining a tone of admiring observation without tipping into hagiography or criticizing him with the wisdom that only hindsight can provide. . . . Lelyveld is a worthy interprete
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