This is the second time I read this biography of Gandhi. Louis Fischer spent time with Gandhi and had many interviews with him. I first read this book for a book report in 8th grade. I remember it being a little difficult to follow and I remember struggling with it. As a testament to some mental activity since that age (goodness, over 10 years ago now) I no longer found the challenging or difficult to read.
The biography is complete, marginally critical of Gandhi (there is so little to be critical of), but like most biographies of the great man – leave out the potential extra-marital affiar Gandhi may have participated in. It is clear that Fischer respected and was fond of Gandhi. Though he is honest about struggling to feel comfortable spending time Gandhi in his simple life, but the story is very positive.
Fischer refrains from making political comments on the ramifications of Gandhi’s beliefs and actions. This could be because the book was written so close to Gandhi’s death that the ramifications were not entirely known.
If you want one book to try to understand the beliefs, pragmatism, idealism, love, and shortcomings of one of history’s greatest leaders – this book is perfect. It is not burdened with verbosity (unlike my writing style) and reads really smoothly. Highly recommend this reading.
BTW, I cried while reading this a couple times on the flight to India in December. Ironically I was seated for part of my flight in between two guys heading to the Middle East for military work. Here I was reading about the greatest pacifist modern history has known and I was sandwiched by two military folks. Made it even more enjoyable.
Read more about it here.