The book is a well structured chronological assessment of Mohandas Gandhi’s life from his childhood as an aspiring lawyer up to his untimely death that symbolizes nonviolent movements and peaceful deeds. The book summarizes Mahatma’s life as follows. Gandhi founded several movements and groups in which he came up with a nonviolent resistance in one major movement, which he initiated to fight against a requirement to finger-print and register all Indian immigrants. The movement attracted a huge number of followers and Gandhi’s message started spreading rapidly.
During his first nonviolent movement, Gandhi was imprisoned for two months by the then South African general Christian Smuts. As an act of love, he made sandals for the general during his imprisonment. His movements received a remarkable attention all over the world particularly Europe. Gandhi returned back to India after 21 years of life in South Africa. He continued with his work in India where he made a concern to abolish the traditional Hindu cast system which regarded low class individuals as social outcasts. He also made attempts to restore peace among the Muslim and Hindu Indians.
He led his famous Salt March as a declaration of defiance against England’s declaration of monopolizing salt production. In the book, Deats quotes Louis Fischer, another famous biographer of Gandhi regarding this move. Fischer writes, “When the Indians allowed themselves to be beaten with batons and rifle butts and did not cringe they showed that England was powerless and India invincible. The rest was merely a matter of time. ” (65). Gandhi was succeeding in his war for independence using his purely nonviolent ways.
His methods for opposition more than once included fasting. The method worked severally to provoke negotiations with the opposing parties. On the 30th day of January 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by an extremist Hindu militant shortly after fasting in protest against the violent Muslim-Hindu conflict. The Hindus were infuriated by Gandhi’s actions and many of them considered him a traitor for sympathizing with their rivals, the Muslims. The legacy left by Gandhi, his message of compassion and his methods of nonviolent movements to fight for peace and reedom have a large impact on several related movements since his demise.
Deats’ informative and concise biography of Gandhi has several concrete points. He touches on many of the important events on the life of Gandhi from his early years, which were imperative in converting him into the legend that he finally became. Deats also does an excellent work in emphasizing the important principles that Gandhi founded, and the philosophies that he deducted and preached from Gandhi’s life. Deats summarizes the teachings of Gandhi concerning life excellently.
However, his book lacks a detailed explanation of how, from an organizational point of view, Gandhi manages to gather such a great multitude of followers. The last few pages of his book are just a collection of various inspirational quotes from Gandhi’s great works. Throughout the text, Deats is effective at the use of quotes to portray Gandhi’s unlimited love for human race especially those who are in need for help and those who are suffering. The Life of Mahatma Gandhi-Louis Fischer The first biography of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer’s was published in the early 1950’s but still reads brilliantly.
The book is organized in short, simple to read chapters. It starts from the first day of Gandhi’s life and then the author describes how the aspiring lawyer in Mahatma first became a civil rights activist for his fellow immigrants in South Africa. Next, the author takes us back to India, and discusses the beginning of the civil resistance movements led by Gandhi in which he uses peaceful means to mobilize hundreds of thousands of Indians against oppression by the British Government. Gandhi has powers I have never read of before.
He links divisions between political, national, and religious affiliations and many, including politicians sought out advice from him. It is hard to include the many interesting aspects that the author covers in the book in this review. I have however covered most of them in my previous review above. The events in Gandhi’s life are so extra ordinary, but also real and this makes his great works greatly readable.
Fischer analyses the history of Indian immigrants and the occupation and oppression of the British, the conflicting prominent religions in India, that is, the Muslims and Hindus, nd how internal disputes among the Indians delayed their quest for independence of their country as a whole. However, in their midst was a man who strongly believed in his people’s welfare and had unending faith in them. He had faith in his fellow countrymen to realize the mistakes and the horror of internal violence and oppression by foreigners. This is a biography of a truly great man whose beliefs are as relevant today as in the past. Louis Fischer bases his writing on Gandhi’s own autobiography and on interrogations with people who knew him.
Fischer goes beyond the boundaries of a biographer in reading the aspirations and the mindset of Gandhi. He is so into Gandhi’s philosophy that his writing is clearly authentic. The text may not be always easy to read, but usually rewards the reader. Fischer provides a comprehensive background scenario of Mahatma and his immediate environment. Richard Deats provides a timely account of Gandhi’s life message. The text is concise and compelling. He analyses Gandhi’s believe in God, and his understanding and life of a nonviolent lifestyle. The book displays a higher way of thinking and a better way of living.