The Years That Changed the World
The magnificent new biography of Gandhi by India's leading historian
Gandhi lived one of the great 20th century lives. He inspired and enraged, challenged and delighted many million men and women around the world. He lived almost entirely in the shadow of the British Raj, which for much of his life seemed a permanent fact, but which he did more than anyone else to destroy, using revolutionary and inspirational tactics. In a world defined by violence on a scale never imagined before and by ferocious Fascist and Communist dictatorship, he was armed with nothing more than his arguments and example.
This magnificent book tells the story of Gandhi's life, from his departure from South Africa to his assassination in 1948. It is a book with a Tolstoyan sweep, both allowing us to see Gandhi as he was understood by his contemporaries and the vast, unbelievably varied Indian societies and landscapes which he travelled through and changed beyond measure. Drawing on many new sources and animated by its author's wonderful sense of drama and politics, the publication of Gandhi is a major event.
Praise for Gandhi 1914-1948
This book will be of enormous interest to readers interested in how law, politics, journalism, social activism and associated professions interact in the processes of social and political change ... One senses, in the author's approach, something of Gandhi's own intensity and rigour ... this book never ceases to inform and intrigue, from the charming preface in which the author's love of his subject shines through, to its prophetic conclusion ... In Ramachandra Guha, a great man has found a great biographer, a wise, persistent and elegant historian who has done justice to perhaps his nation's greatest storySydney Morning Herald
Excellent and exhaustive ... Guha has done heroic work in reconstructing this period of Gandhi's life ... Gandhi emerges here as a fascinatingly complicated and contradictory figure ... if the sequel proves as rich and absorbing as this first book, it will doubtless serve as the fundamental portrait of Gandhi for many years to comeSunday Business Post
Guha's Gandhi Before India is a whale of a book. It is unique. No one has written so comprehensively on Gandhi's early years ... a great historian ... Guha's book is a classicMail Today, New Delhi
What can a new biographer add? Gandhi Before India by Ramachandra Guha, India's leading historian, offers plenty ... Rather than lingering on Gandhi's own well-studied words, Mr Guha has unearthed a wealth of previously overlooked school reports, diaries, letters and articles by collaborators and opponents of Gandhi. The result is a striking depiction of his transformation into mid-adulthood ... As Mr Guha ably shows, for all that Gandhi influenced events in South Africa, it was he who experienced the greater changeEconomist
One of the surprises in Gandhi Before India is just how much fresh material it contains. Guha has a gift for tracking down obscure letters and newspaper reports and patching them together to make history come alive ... The book turns up some gems ... Gandhi Before India demonstrates how complicated cross-cultural relations were in the long 19th century ... it is a work of vivid social history as well as biographyPatrick French, Guardian
Guha is India's best-known historian, who marshals his wide scholarship in contemporary and modern history with a raconteur's lucid felicityDNA Mumbai
A spirited case for Gandhi's continued relevance, for the challenges his ideas still present to usTehelka, New Delhi
Guha is one of India's most intelligent and readable historians; and in addition to his considerable talents, he has had the good fortune to discover a treasure trove of Gandhi's own voluminous press cuttings and also many shelf-loads of letters to him from friends and colleaguesStandpoint
Many will come to this biography wanting to know more about Gandhi himself - his character, the details of his famously ascetic lifestyle and his relations with his family, which were not ideal ... Guha relates all this wonderfully ... [the] book is clearly a labour of love, though not of uncritical infatuation. What distinguishes it is the breadth of the context - Indian, British and South African ... Guha marshals his material sensitively and empathetically in order to give shape, colour and depth to the life of this saint-like figure (but how much more fascinating than any conventional saint)Literary Review