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The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  903 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Mohandas K. Gandhi, called Mahatma (“great soul”), was the father of modern India, but his influence has spread well beyond the subcontinent and is as important today as it was in the first part of the twentieth century and during this nation’s own civil rights movement. Taken from Gandhi’s writings throughout his life, The Essential Gandhi introduces us to his thoughts on ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published February 15th 2012 by Vintage (first published 1962)
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Rachel Rueckert
This book changed my life. It is by far the best biography I have ever read, but I think the unique format lends itself to that. While it is officially an anthology, the editor strung it in a way that Gandhi himself narrates the story. Drawing from all of Gandhi’s writings, this blend really makes up something special.

It is more than the fact that it is packed with a bunch of quotes you might find on dentist office posters or written on your mirror though (which there are plenty of that I will n
Such a simple philosophy on how to make the world better, adopt non-violence ('satyagraha'), renounce materiality, act on convictions and eradicate inequality, exploitation and idleness. I admire Gandhi not only because of his bold statements, his ability to inspire, his active resolve, his visionary perspectives and his articulate mind, but also because he was so humble in recognizing his own personal weaknesses. I found it so tragic that he was assassinated at a time when it seemed like all wa ...more
I didn't know anything about Gandhi before, so I learned a lot about his life and philosophies, both of which were fascinating. I found much of his writing inspiring. I think the only problem with this book is that the editing is not as strong as it should be -- there were times when passages were repeated, and sometimes the chosen passages felt choppy together. Other times, things got repetitive. Still, it's a huge amount of information to condense into a manageable book for the average reader, ...more
This is an interesting book on Gandhi's perspectives and life's work, but not as good as his autobiographical "My Experiments With the Truth", which was more of a narrative and flowed much better. This book felt pastiched and scattered, though I did learn some things I didn't get from the aforementioned other work (e.g., he was adamantly against being called "Mahatma"). Overall, it's a worthwhile read, but I'd get "My Experiments" first if you're just getting into Gandhi.
The book is a condensed version of a biography of Gandhi and many of his teachings as well. Much of it is drawn from Gandhi's own autobiography or otherwise drawn from his own words. It is easy to read and generally well-written. Gandhi's life was in many respects a quest for truth, which in turn kept him humble, open to new ideas and the criticism of others. As he said, "the conviction that morality is the basis of things and that truth is the substance of all morality. Truth became my sole obj ...more
Dan Patel
Too powerful to have a proper reaction after the first read. I'll return to this book later in the year and give it another go, and hopefully be able to grasp it better. Much of his ideas are beautifully undeniable, but reading a lot of what he says also raises questions, which Gandhi of course would have had no issue with. I'll be thinking about this into the unforeseeable future.
Because this book is a collection of Gandhi's own writings it is occasionally somewhat confusing. The editor adds very little framing material so sometimes it is hard to follow. If you're looking for an introduction or a broad overview of Gandhi's life, start elsewhere. If you're adding to what you already know, this is a worthwhile read.
Humza Hussain
One of the most important books that I have ever read. Although the editing of this book could have been better, the essence of Gandhi's message was preserved. The book weaves together some of the Great Soul's best writings and introduces us to his beliefs, political views, philosophies and his relationship with his own spirituality. Gandhi's achievements give us hope that if we embrace our enemies with love and compassion, and constantly battle our own demons and vices and we have a real chance ...more
First, the bad... As much as I enjoyed the narrative quality of the way Ghandi's writings were organized and the historical background interspersed throughout, I can't help but feel the editor was a little too heavy handed here. There were too many brackets, too many ellipses. And paragraphs written sometimes as much as 25 years apart were presented side by side as if part of the same text. On a single page, there were as many as 5 different source texts, with varying audiences and political con ...more
Oct 21, 2007 Lily rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: spirituality
There are far too many ellipses in this book for my taste. The author/complier who was trying to convey Gandhi's ideas literally cobbled together quotes throughout the entire book. Having several sets of ellipses in just about every sentence was ridiculous. It leaves you wondering whether or not the quotes are being used in the proper context.

The author did provide fastidious footnotes for the quotes, but I really wouldn't want to have to check that many sources by hand. The reason I purchased t
Mar 27, 2008 +Chaz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is not afraid to step out side their box.
Recommended to +Chaz by: Professor of peace and war, Kent State
If you read this book thinking that it will be an easy guide about life, you'll be disappointed if you even finish. Gandhi's thought provoking questions about humility and its dysfunctional response to the universal lack of, “The rule of law,” sends a clear message that even the Neanderthals would be hard pressed not too understand. Fischer attempt’s to capture the essential ideas of a man far more advance in human thought than almost any person alive at that time. His simple ideals transcend t ...more
Chris Barber
I have not read every work put forth about his life, or even read all of his writing. I can say, with this book, I truly desired to know more about him.
Gandhi's voluminous writings have been organized and condensed to read like an autobiography, and the numerous bracketed summaries and ellipses never let the reader forget that this book has been heavily edited.

Nevertheless, Gandhi in Gandhi's own words is a fascinating subject. He is fearless in his self reflection and is surprisingly candid about such personal topics as his sex life with his wife, his failures as a father, and his disappointments in leading India's nonviolence movement. As thr
The editor invaded this book. I barely got through the first chapter because it felt so man-handled; molested, even. Th editing felt like such an insult to the idea of Gandhi. Gandhi wrote and spoke in the moment; that was how he practiced truth. I forget who edited this, but whoever did claimed to be an expert in Gandhi. If he was such an expert, how could he bring himself to do the exact opposite of what Gandhi strived to do? It was simply blasphemous.

I'd prefer to read Gandhi's "My experimen
Don't take my rating the wrong way. As I expected them to be the writings of Gandhi were overwhelming, and caused much introspection for me, but this particular compilation left much to be desired. The editing was poor, and it tended toward taking a paragraph here and there from different writings and pasting them together. I am always leery of writings pasted like this, often intentionally or unintentionally the original direction of the piece is cut away, leaving side notes or worse.

Read Gandh
Chris Jensen
This really is the essential Gandhi. Starting out I kind of had pre-set ideas of Gandhi and his beliefs. This was great to read in its entirety. You see Gandhi's views change over his life and I love how he does not hold everyone to his personal standards, but inspires them to reach farther, and to become better. His undying faith in the goodness of humankind and the power to reach him or her through love is amazing and inspiring.
Emmanuel Vazquez
I am just in awe that a man such as this existed. The mere thought that a man fasting would bring people together is mind blowing. I misunderstood Gandhi's non violence movement before this book. His faith in that fact that humanity is good is unparalleled to anything that I have read before. I like that he never thought he had the absolute truth but just trying his best to find it.
Bradley Farless
This is an awesome resource for primary material (Gandhi's own writings). The book presents excerpts from multiple sources, both from his time in South Africa and in India, in what seems to be a mostly chronological order. The way it's written makes it easy to read, almost like a first person novel.

In terms of the content itself, Gandhi was brilliant and way ahead of his time.
This as an absolutely fantastic book. Fischer chronicles Gandhi's life in a way that is fascinating as a narrative, but not overly intrusive on his beliefs and teachings.

I find myself returning to this book over and over... it is amazing and will change the way you think about life, politics, religion, and just about everything else.
i'd heard most of the mainstream things about Gandhi and wanted to learn more. I thought this book was a great way to learn about his life and teachings and really liked the mix of Gandhi's own writings with the biographer's explanitory made it easy to read and gave further context to understanding the message.
Cara Patterson
Great book. I knew very little about Ghandi before reading this. Found it at a library sale for 10 cents. Fischer takes you through Ghandi's life and philosophies using Ghandi's own words compiled from various writings.

It's a great introduction to both Ghandi's life and his ideas. Pretty easy reading, too.
Very disappointing. Difficult to read as the writer took Gandhi's quotes and then wrote a bit in between them giving some background. Would just as soon have read a biography online. Very dull. Gandhi's heart and soul were lost in translation. Had to make myself read it, which I very seldom make myself do.
Awkwardly edited and a difficult/slow read for much of the time. Some good parts are buried throughout, but too many bracketed background summaries from the editor trying to link those parts together. Wouldn't recommend this particular compilation edition of Ghandi's writings and work.
Sep 04, 2007 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to improve the state of the world
It took me a few months to finish this. I'd read a bit & then need to process for a while. I really was impressed by Gandhi's humility and his simple, simple ideas for improving the state of the world around oneself. I will definitely be referencing this book again in my life.
Dec 09, 2011 Woodhen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
So much to take in - how does one even live a snippet of Gandhi's life? The more I read his letters, the more I realise how incredible he was and how much we need a Gandhi today, and how rare such people are.

Hunter Johnson
A broad overview of Gandhi's life and philosophy, in his own words. Editor Louis Fischer intersperses the passages with brief introductions or segues, to help the reader understand the historical setting. Worthwhile.
Jory Houser
Love reading Gandhi's writings. I read this and MLK's autobiography around the same time. It was good to read both at the same time. Two very purposeful nonviolent leaders who changed the world near the same time.
It's hard to separate a "book review" from a general opinion of Gandhi's works and teachings. For what it was worth it was a great introduction to the man and his accomplishments. He's an excellent writer too.
Vanessa Stone
Gandhi's words are inspiring, however, I would have preferred a more straight forward analogy. I did not like the way the editors threw his writings together. All and all, very interesting.
Jun 24, 2009 Daniel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daniel by: Father
Shelves: non-fiction
I never knew that much about Gandhi's philosophy and history until I read this book, but I thought the way they outlined everything the book itself was a bit repetitive.
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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

The son of a senior government official, Gandhi was born and raised in a Hindu Bania community in coastal Gu
More about Mahatma Gandhi...
The Story of My Experiments With Truth Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha) Gandhi On Non-Violence Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi(tr) Hind Swaraj and Other Writings

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“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” 716 likes
“I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.” 223 likes
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