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Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,754 ratings  ·  191 reviews
This is the extraordinary story of how one man's indomitable spirit inspired a nation to triumph over tyranny. This is the story of Mahatma Gandhi, a man who owned nothing-and gained everything!! ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published December 7th 1982 by Signet (first published January 1st 1950)
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Riku Sayuj
Gandhi: The Observer

To change something you love is the hardest. It requires you to set aside your love for the thing and be objective. Real change cannot be imagined otherwise. My favourite description of Gandhiji’s uniqueness of vision comes from Naipaul.


Naipaul says that Gandhi saw India like no other, he observed critically, with an impartial, almost colonial eye. And then he acted on them. And this is what made his vision of India so revolutionary. He questioned things that were taken for g
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading ‘The Life of Mahatma Gandhi’ by Louis Fischer and one word that can describe my feeling at the moment is awe. We were taught in school about India’s history, about our freedom struggle, about our fearless leaders and their countless sacrifices. We studied the contributions of leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar, Lajpat Rai et al to our struggle for independence, but as we grow up and become enmeshed in the humdrum of our daily activities, these names begin to have ...more
As I turned the last page of Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World, I felt like I should say to it, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

The fact is, I had a hard time reading this book. This is one of those books that is better than my rating would indicate. My own personal issues prevented me from fully enjoying the book.

More than anything else, I think my problems stem from Louis Fischer’s writing style, not from his subject matter. Perhaps biography writing styles were different in 1954 when this w
Miroku Nemeth
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Gandhi was a hero of my first teacher, my mother, and in reading this book, I now see that much of how she strove to raise me came from his example and teaching. I read a biography of the "Gandhi of the Frontier" Badshah Khan two days ago, and bought this book last night and read it in its entirety today because the example of the Muslim Pashtun leader who created a non-violent uniformed army of 100,000 Pashtun and his love and respect for Gandhi touched me deeply. As a Muslim who is tired of th ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would like to avoid making this a review of Gandhi rather than of a book about Gandhi, but for the best possible reasons that is hard to do. The author knew Mohandas Gandhi personally, visited him repeatedly and, so far as I can ascertain, reflected his philosophy in this moving account as faithfully as still water. The book, in reading, seems to melt seamlessly into the Mahatma as if you were at his feet. There are three or five men whom I would call the greatest of the last century - Gandhi, ...more
Mar 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Men and women and children knew, or felt, that when Gandhi fell by the assassin’s three bullets the conscience of mankind had been left without a spokesman.

Louis Fischer clearly loved Mahatma Gandhi. An entire nation loved him. How could such a tiny little man impress the world in such a way? Before I read this book I knew next to nothing about him. Only that he had strange diet practices (“Many such experiments taught me that the real seat of taste was not in the tongue but in the mind,”) was
Apr 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
This is the type of book that had a lot of potential. What ruined the book for me was Fisher's writing style. Throughout the entire book, Fisher idolizes Gandhi. There is not one passage of criticism which is unusual considering that Gandhi can be a controversial figure. His blatant worship of Gandhi made me highly critical of his telling of Gandhi. Another thing that made me highly critical was his lack of citations. Fisher reports that he spent a total of four weeks with Gandhi before his deat ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Poorly written - while Gandhi is just an extremely, overrated 'political-rock star."

His clear substantive shortcomings in sciences, economics and mathematics, for starters, leads to his myopic thinking and actions that are preoccupied mostly with subjective political ideologies and religiosity. His stubborn approaches had perhaps also contributed to the deaths thousands of people during his time. His failure then to deal with real critical issues and trends; such as: overpopulation, education, e
Mar 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Over all I am not too pleased with this book. I'm very interested in biography and and pretty anything in that category but when I started reading this book I knew it was a mistake. Even the beginning of the book was boring. I read the first 100 pages and didn't like it. The reason I read that many pages was I was waiting for the book to get interesting but frankly it didn't. It had very small print that hurt my eyes and along with that it was flat out boring. There wasn't any cool or interestin ...more
Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Admittedly I have a very poor memory. I read books and then what seems like just minutes later most of the information which had so thoroughly engrossed me is erased from my mind. However, Louis Fischer's book and, more so, Gandhi's life so captivatingly described therein, contains scenes, sayings, concepts, and descriptions which I'm sure will stay with me forever:

“In the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists.”
“Nor cou
Mikey B.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, india
Gandhi is a Great of the 20th century. This book is more personal as the author had met Gandhi – its focus is on Gandhi the man. It cites his speeches and how Gandhi influenced events around him. Gandhi was a doer and the method and means were everything.

Compare Gandhi with the rise of communism (Lenin-Stalin) of the same time period and there is no doubt who and which approach is the more admirable and humane. Marxism-Leninism led to the death of millions.

The book describes many aspects of not
Rahul Khanna
I am not wise enough to write a review of a book which is a biography M.K Gandhi. Nevertheless i will write a very compelling line from this book

Mountbatten told the royal empire society on 6 October, 1948, that in India Gandhi 'was not compared with some great statesman like Roosevelt or Churchill. They classified him simply in their minds with Mohammed and Christ'.Millions adored the Mahatma, multitudes tries to kiss his feet or the dust of his footsteps. They paid him homage and rejected his
Lisa Butterworth
Mar 08, 2009 rated it liked it
I Overall I really enjoyed this book, but I wish it would have been a little more linear (or something). I am glad to understand Gandhi and his life and philosophy better. I'm interested to read another biography now, from a more er. . historical perspective. ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply put: One of the best books I have ever read.
Cijo Mathew
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read book for those who wish to learn about Mahatma Gandhi from the point of view of an American journalist, who spent two weeks with the Politician-Saint (one week each on two separate occasions) and is obviously a big fan of the Mahatma. The extensive research he has done and the interviews he did with almost all the prominent leaders of the time, including the leaders of the Indian National Congress, the British Imperialist Government rulers of the time gives the book a lot of ...more
The editorial description of the book went

"This is a biography of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948). He led the fight for Indian independence from British rule, who tirelessly pursued a strategy of passive resistance, and who was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic only a few months after independence was achieved."

The editorial description is notable in light of facts of history that took place around independence of India - for one thing Gandhi desperately wished to visit the newly partitioned land of
Jordan McMaster
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I sense that this is one of those books that will stay with me my entire life. It is a relatively brief overview of the life and message of Gandhi, and a perfect introduction for anyone (like myself) who has never studied Gandhi before. It left me wanting more -- more Gandhi, more of his goodness, more of his strength, more of his passion, more of his love.
Cody Allen
May 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Gandhi was not always the spiritual hero of Indian independence that we know him as. Once upon a time, he was a struggling youngster in the midst of a chaotic world, trying to find his rightful place in it. He was born in 1869 and married his wife and life-long companion at the tender age of 13, before puberty or adulthood had yet to embrace him. His first son was born when he was 18, the same year that he sailed to London in order to study law. While in England, he adopted the local culture as ...more
Occasionally there comes along a person who can captivate the hearts and minds of the people around him. Rarely does someone come along that can captivate an entire country. Rarer still a person who can capture the attention of the world. Mahatma Gandhi appears to be one of the latter.
I was intrigued when I picked up Louis Fischer's Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World. I knew next to nothing about Mahatma Gandhi, and was interested in reading a biography with an unbiased view - no pre-con
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that it took me three tries to finish this book. I think I started it at least two years ago. The first two times I got about 100 pages in and lost steam. The content was mostly interesting, but I was getting bogged down by a lot of the political details. I started over once again from the beginning, convinced that reading this biography would be "good for me." This time, after about 200 pages, I couldn't get myself to read anything else until I finished.

Gandhi has to be one of t
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: school-readings
Gandhi's life is one I've been itching to learn more about for a long time, and his life surprises me in many ways. I knew little of how he got his point across to people, and was especially surprised by his beliefs (I didn't know he wasn't completely Hindu, nor that he was inspired by the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5).
While there are things I disagreed with on Gandhi's views, I did appreciate his dedication and drive to do what he believed right, and for the best of others. He did much of
Raman Sihag
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
The author way of writing- 0 star. He go on writing single sentence into paragraphs. Very 4 5 6 words the ‘commas’. It’s confusing. Not at all clear and easy to read.
About content - 2 stars. No criticism. It’s plain. Not analytical in multiple dimensions. Just goes on praising & praising.
Errors- many factual errors indeed. For eg- he wrote “ Bhagat Singh fired pistol rounds in legislative assembly after throwing bombs”. This is Absolutely false. He never fired and didn’t intent to hurt anyone th
Aug 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Although I was not very fond of the last half or so of the book, the first part in which Ghandi's philosophies and beliefs were explained intrigued me. The story of Ghandi and all his inspiring achievements is a truly riveting tale of devotion and real faith, which is something rarely seen today. Greed, desire, corruption.... none of these things penetrated the seemingly invincible barrier that was built in his highly disciplined mind. He had unbending faith in both himself and in his countrymen ...more
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had been planning to read about Gandhi for a very long time. Finally, I got hold of this book, which is written very well. However, the writer has compromised his status as a biographer in his bid to write about Gandhi. He has overlooked many events in Gandhi's life (esp. the paradoxical views of Gandhi in a lot of matters). Overall, the book is great as it makes you walk and talk with Gandhi in a virtual setting but lacks an incisive description of many aspects of Gandhi's life. Because of th ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
For a 620-page book on Indian politics this is remarkably readable. It's also pretty even-handed and gives a good idea of the man as well as the Mahatma. Fischer doesn't gloss over some of Gandhi's less appealing aspects (his relationships with his own sons, for example), but you can see why he inspired a devoted following. What mainly come through are his compassion and determination.
I like the way Fischer handles the ending, too.
Reece Willcox
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Very interesting, just had hard time getting through it. I wasn’t a huge fan of author’s writing style.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting but very one sided and pretty dated
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Great biography on the amazing and inspiring life of Ghandi.

"He always tried to exalt the individual; hence 'it has always been a mystery to me,' he wrote in his autobiography, 'how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow-beings.'

"Bramacharya, 'fully and properly understood,' he wrote in 1924, 'means search after Brahma,' or God. It 'signifies control of all the senses at all times and all places in thought, word, and deed.' It includes yet transcends sexual restraint
Charlie Canning
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the good fortune to read Louis Fischer's biography of Gandhi recently and came across this extraordinary paragraph:
"Gandhi did not expect to eradicate white prejudices. 'Prejudices," he wrote in the Times of India of June 2, 1918, 'cannot be removed by legislation . . . . They yield only to patient toil and education.' Nor did he hope to end segregation quickly. The Indians, he declared, 'feel the ostracism but they silently bear it.' His quarrel with the South Africans was 'for feeding th
Shireesh Pareek
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a time when people are not leaving any stone unturned to demonize Mahatma Gandhi all due to fake news fed to them via WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts,it becomes all the more necessary to read about the man.
The most extensive biography about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi or Bapu. This book is in three sections first deals with the birth, schooling,family,his going to law school,his time in South Africa and his rise to fame. Second section deals with his ret
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Foreign correspondent and analyst of world affairs.

Fischer worked as an European correspondent first in Berlin later in the Soviet Union. The works he wrote during his stay in the Soviet Union are criticised for its apologism and the denial of the Ukraine famine.

Louis Fischer first visited Gandhi in 1942 and again in 1946.

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