Look Inside. Mar 29, Minutes Buy. 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. An earlier… More about Joseph Lelyveld. Lelyveld has restored human depth to the Mahatma. 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.
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In South Africa Gandhi defended wealthy Indians and till much later he hardly supported the working Indian labourers but never supported the local African natives and thus portrays Gandhi as racially prejudiced. I find Gandhi an interesting person though I do not agree wi. I find Gandhi an interesting person though I do not agree with his many religious, ideological and political views.
Gandhi worked hard for religious peace, equality and basic necessities of life for every individual in India. However India is very far from achieving any of his ideologies and sanitation is the very last priority of the Government and public. India is still divided in many ways. This was my first book on Gandhi and it seems family was not important as he spent very short years with his wife and children, which brings up a question as to why he would be called a Mahatma.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld. 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.
Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Great Soul , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 29, Becky rated it really liked it. This book deserves a 5-star rating because of its content.
I'm giving it 4 stars simply because it was not a compelling read. It's the kind of book I'm very glad to have read, though. A friend who read the same book was irritated that Gandhi's faults were portrayed. Perhaps she thought the author set out to discredit Gandhi. Now that I have read the entire book and know more about Gandhi, I remain impressed with him.
Yes, he managed his own public relations very well. Yes, he was more than quirk This book deserves a 5-star rating because of its content. Yes, he was more than quirky when it came to diet and control of biologic urges. Yes, he contradicted himself over and over and over again. Yes, he was a poor negotiator. He grew over time. He maintained a clear sense that caste was harmful. He held tight to his view that the spiritual and the political were absolutely linked.
He held both the Hindus and the Muslims to better behavior. He must have had opportunities to "sell out," to become corrupt, but he never did.
All these things make him the rare person. I learned more about the history of India, about other political figures who were also working for the Dalits and for Indian independence.
I also learned that Gandhi, because of his emphasis on village self-sufficiency, was instrumental in promoting sustainable agriculture in India. Mar 15, Perry Krasow rated it really liked it Shelves: biography , history. I heard about the controversy surrounding Great Soul before I ever got a copy in my hands.
For brevity, and since many readers would prefer to draw their own conclusions from the evidence I heard about the controversy surrounding Great Soul before I ever got a copy in my hands. For brevity, and since many readers would prefer to draw their own conclusions from the evidence mostly Gandhi's own letters , I won't include mine here.
My summary of these issues and full review of the book is at greatnonfictionbooks. The author shows Gandhi as a political operator. The man was a lawyer long before he was a saint. This is a complete biography and not just a discussion of sex and race. Lelyveld presents his material in a sensitive, accurate manner, without the extremes sensationalism or worship. Apr 14, Grady rated it it was amazing. And that is sad, because a careful reading of this book simply reveals those controversial aspects of a man whose life was anything but understandable as he was living it, and bringing to readers' attention the aspects of Gandhi that allow us to see that indeed he was very human, struggling with not only attempting to unite Hindus and Muslims, but also with racism and pacifism and vegetarianism, the South African cultural influence on his thoughts and so forth.
The primary reason for the censorship and reader condemnation of this book seems to center on the discussion of Gandhi's long-term intimate relationship with the German Jewish bodybuilder Hermann Kallenbach. Yes, there are 'love letters' between the two men, but Gandhi managed to cope with the central focus of his affection with a similar focus on his wife and his young nieces, etc. What Lelyveld seems to be doing is examining the relationship between Gandhi's approach to South Africa and India, working to define how this great thinker arrived at his concept of satyagraha.
This concept helped India gain independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. How a man who gave so much of himself to the welfare of society could be condemned for an intimate relationship with another man is a conundrum. The only solution to understanding the importance of this book is to read it. And it deserves to be read!
Grady Harp Nov 26, Melissa rated it it was ok Shelves: memoir-biography. This book was a chore to complete. The physical book was dry and irritating to read. The audiobook was read by such a cynical voice a Vincent Price sound-alike that it was almost unbearable. I kept alternately reading and listening to the book, hoping there would be some kind of messag This book was a chore to complete.
I kept alternately reading and listening to the book, hoping there would be some kind of message that would justify such an airing of criticism and "dirty laundry". At the very end of the last chapter, the author finally admits that although Gandhi wasn't successful at changing the masses of India during his lifetime, that his ideas still remain as inspiration.
In my opinion, that falls way short of the mark. The author wasted all that effort pointing out how HUMAN Gandhi was, and how he wasn't born "a saint", then didn't tie that humanity into a relevant summary or lesson.
My summary for a book endlessly pointing out every mistake, inconsistency, and failure of a man whose positive message still lives on today, would be that if a man so "flawed" as Gandhi could bring so much inspiration to the world by example, then any one of us can do the same - you don't have to be born a saint. That striving to always be lifting others up, we can make lasting change in the world. That Gandhi's whole mission was to inspire everyone to live in a way that lifts others up, as opposed to beating them down.
The author gets 2 stars for bringing me to that conclusion on my own. A conclusion that is only possible when you choose to look for the GOOD in people and events.
Aug 06, Mary rated it really liked it Shelves: already-read-non-fiction. An interesting biography of Gandhi and his thought over his long life. The general outline wasn't new--his activism for Indians in South Africa, his return to India determined to develop his iodeas of simple ascetic living and achieving the end of untouchability.
However, his inner conflicts between his political and his spiritual roles are explored at length. The author doesn't flinch from portraying Gandhi's tendency to egoistic insistence on his particular ideas of truth-- at the same time hi An interesting biography of Gandhi and his thought over his long life.
The author doesn't flinch from portraying Gandhi's tendency to egoistic insistence on his particular ideas of truth-- at the same time his subject's incredible demands on himself.
He must have been a difficult man to live and to work with! Politically it's hard to tell if his actions made the ultimate independence and partition of India more difficult, or if he ameliorated the horrendous struggles. His tragic but seemingly inevitable assassination in may have for a time at least brought all Indians together in the realization they had to rise above sectarian conflict--and for decades they did, until more recent flare-ups of Hindu-Muslim violence.
Spiritually he lives on in small pockets of selfless service to others in India and elsewhere. The writing is rather cumbersome, but the book is well worth reading.
Among the Hagiographers
Initially orthodox in his religious beliefs, he was drawn — like many Indians later active in the national liberation movement — into the fringe milieu of Theosophy, a creed whose blend of Hinduism and Western Spiritualism made it a magnet for holders of unconventional ideas. Theosophical meetings were one of the few places where Indians and Europeans could meet socially on equal terms. Gandhi soon became a spokesman for the Indian business elite of Natal Province in South Africa, lobbying against a system of discriminatory legislation which was rapidly evolving toward full-blown apartheid. Despite his later claims, Gandhi did not immediately champion the rights of indentured laborers, the underclass of mainly low-caste South Indians who had been transported to labor in mines and on plantations in conditions of semi-slavery. He was also yet to become the staunch anti-imperialist of later years. Hoping to gain concessions from the British colonial authorities, he organized an Indian stretcher battalion to serve in the Boer War, and in an ignoble episode in assisted also as the leader of a corps of stretcher-bearers in the brutal suppression of a Zulu uprising. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.
Appreciating Gandhi Through His Human Side
Alfred A. Knopf, pp, hardcover. Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about Indian freedom fighter Mohandas K. Gandhi, along comes a book that demolishes your assumptions—and raises the spectre of the mahatma having a long-term male lover. He only launched a campaign in , after repeated criticism from an Indian newspaper editor. In one of the most surprising sections of Great Soul , Lelyveld presents compelling evidence that Gandhi harboured a long-lasting homoerotic attraction to Hermann Kallenbach, an East Prussian Jewish architect and bodybuilder. They lived together for several years in Johannesburg, while the Gandhi family remained outside Durban.
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.