By: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2014
There was nothing about young Monhandas Karamchand Gandhi to indicate that he would one day be a beloved leader revered not only in his country, but around the world. “I used to be shy and avoided all company,” he later claimed, a characteristic that most certainly was not indicative of any future leader. Intellectually even his studies proved to be a struggle, yet another thing that would be a detriment “if he was to become a successful politician,” something he aspired to. His youthful marriage at age thirteen to Kasturbai Kapadia was turbulent at best. Later in life his poor treatment of Kasturbai came back to sting his conscience. It was not an auspicious beginning, not at all.
Obviously there had to be a turning point in Monhandas’s life and the suggestion that he continue his education in England was it. Gandhi realized that it “would be a test of his courage” and indeed it was. In spite of much disappointment and pain, especially at the death of his mother, he began to mature and cement his life philosophy. His “new path,” which would groom him for leadership began with a single incidence of racial intolerance. The twentysomething Gandhi was, first class ticket in hand, told by officials that “he would have to move to the baggage carriage.” It was a life-altering eye opener to the injustices of South African society.
The despicable incident was one that would eventually immerse Ghandi “in the fight for Indian rights in South Africa.” It was also a fight that would, in addition to making him a much revered man, make him the target of extreme Hindu nationalists once he was back on Indian soil. Gandhi’s “ideas of nonviolence and civil disobedience” were set in place to unify Hindus and Muslims in their fight for independence from British rule. It was the work of a simple, yet brilliant man, who began to loosen the British reins of oppression. All the while, a conspiracy began to unknowingly roil in the waters around him. Nathuram Vinayak Godse began his plan to stop the one man he thought was weakening and destroying India. Would he succeed?
This is an excellent look at the assassination conspiracy surrounding Mohandas Gandhi. Many students learn about Gandhi and his philosophy of nonviolence and civil disobedience, but little about the evil surrounding him. This book discusses the well-known aspects of Gandhi’s life, but also Nathuram Godse, his co-conspirators, their beliefs, their initial attempt on his life, and ultimately the successful one. It’s an excellent overview that tells the other side of the story, one that could easily become a stepping stone to further research or a school report. The book is generously illustrated with black and white photographs and numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a timeline (1869 to 1949), a “Who’s Who” biographical section, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This would be an excellent addition to any homeschool, classroom, or library shelves for students interested in world history and its leaders.