The first volume of the definitive biography of Gandhi, one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century, from the great historian Ramachandra Guha
The life of Mohandas Gandhi is one of the most remarkable and potent in the modern era. In this fascinating new biography Ramachandra Guha allows us to understand the personality and politics of Mohandas Gandhi as never before. Showing that Gandhi's ideas were fundamentally shaped before his return to India in 1915, Gandhi Before India is the extraordinarily vivid portrait of the formative years he spent in England and South Africa, where he developed the techniques that would undermine and ultimately destroy the British Empire.
Ramachandra Guha depicts a world of sharp contrasts between the coastal culture of Gujarat, High Victorian London and colonial South Africa, where settlers from India, Britain and elsewhere battled for their share of this rich and newly despoiled land. Drawing on many new sources located in archives across four continents, Guha sensitively explores the many facets of Gandhi's life and struggles. This is the biography of the year.
'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 come' Sunday Business Post
'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 change' Economist
'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 biography' Patrick French, Guardian
'Guha is India's best-known historian, who marshals his wide scholarship in contemporary and modern history with a raconteur's lucid felicity' DNA Mumbai
'A spirited case for Gandhi's continued relevance, for the challenges his ideas still present to us' Tehelka, 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 colleagues' Standpoint
About the author:
Ramachandra Guha is one of India's most influential historians and public intellectuals. His books include A Corner of a Foreign Field and India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy. The Independent has called him 'one of the world's great minds'; Time has said he is 'Indian democracy's pre-eminent chronicler'. He has held visiting professorships at Stanford, Yale, and the London School of Economics. He lives in Bangalore.