Bob's Reviews > Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India

Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld
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M 50x66
's review
Nov 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, 4-star

This is a very good read. Overall, Lelyveld does a fine job and presents a fresh historical view, not shying away from Gandhi's own admitted short comings and periods of self doubt. It's great that a glossary is provided for all of the Hindi words and phrases. I only needed to consult a dictionary a few times.
Gandhi always put his beliefs into action, especially near the end of his life. It's impossible to say how many lives he saved by nearly fasting to death himself. Nobody, which ever side of the thorny political, sectarian, or religious issues they your on, wanted him to die on their home turf. He shuttled between Delhi and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) several times in order to quell violence and he always succeeded, at least temporarily.
His main goals in life were to end the caste system in India, end British rule in India and South Africa, and for people everywhere to be accepting of others, regardless of their own belief system. He believed that politics and religion should always remain separate. He was a role model for other world leaders; Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Caesar Chavez and many more. He showed that organized, non-violent demonstration is not passive and can effect great social and political change. You can see those same tactics being used today by seekers of freedom in Tahrir Square, Occupy Wall Street and elsewhere. Like anyone else though, he could not see ahead of time or into even the near future that monsters such as Hitler and the many dictators throughout history who lived by and only knew the use of violence and absolutely could not be reasoned with.
I can think of no higher praise of Gandhi than to say that he can well be placed along side any of the great human beings whoever walked this earth and realized their sole reason for being was to love humankind and to show that others can bravely do the same no matter how many may hate them for it. He was never arrogant or prideful, but humble, always mindful of how much work was yet to be done. Indeed, a great soul.

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