Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Autobiography: Toward Freedom” as Want to Read:
An Autobiography: Toward Freedom
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Autobiography: Toward Freedom

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  578 ratings  ·  32 reviews
First published in 1936, and now available in a centenary edition, this book was written by Nehru almost entirely in prison from June 1934 to February 1935. His account, though replete with autobiographical details, is much more than a personal document; in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, "Through all its details there runs a deep current of humanity which overpasses the ...more
Paperback, 648 pages
Published September 27th 1989 by Bodley Head (first published 1940)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about An Autobiography, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about An Autobiography

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  578 ratings  ·  32 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of An Autobiography: Toward Freedom
Vikas Lather
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Jawaharlal Nehru, a man I shall always be sorry I never met, wrote a desperately fascinating book! Arguably the most under-rated book of the twentieth century.

Jawaharlal Nehru can only be described as Plato's philosopher king. He was an extraordinary writer, incredible reader, incorruptible statesman, and a technology lover who had romantic relationship with environment, democracy and justice. So it would be impossible to write about him without romantic manner. As Introduction goes, "What is t
Rahul Khanna
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Whenever I read Pandit Nehru I feel like my father is writing to me. The quality of prose is exquisite and seldom other writer match this skill. Nehru's first book I read is 'Discovery of India'. But after reading 'Glimpses of world history 'I became staunch admirer of Nehru. When I was reading 'Glimpses of world history' I decided to read his autobiography. This is long book of 650 pages but book flows with the masterly prose of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. You can find plenty of quotable quotes in ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
While I was not as influenced or engrossed by this book as I was by Nehru's "The Discovery of India", this was still an extremely enjoyable read. His amazing prose is on full display, and much of the book is very personal and introspective. It is split into more than 60 chapters, some of them only 5 or 6 pages, which makes it very digestible in small spurts and allows the reader to pick it up or put it down with ease.

The fact that it was written in jail, Nehru admits, influenced its tone very
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A bright, thoughtful, lively, insightful and passionate individual, not presented with all the answers in life, but with a strong curiosity to learn. I was moved by his reflections on marriage, religion, colonialism, nature and life.

"I am afraid our veneer of civilized conduct is thin enough, and, when passions are aroused, it rubs off and reveals something that is not good to look at."

"To me these years have brought one rich gift among many others. More and more I have looked upon life as an ad
Sayantan Dasgupta
Oct 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Never mind! Wasn't expecting anything fruitful. ...more
Ravi Prakash
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Took me almost one month to complete this book. I have always been in love of the writing style of Nehru. The whole book is just the chronological description of various aspect of Indian freedom struggle. Nehru has shared his personal family life also. Well, in this autobiography, Nehru has presented Gandhiji as the hero of the Indian freedom struggle, while for the self he accepted the role of side hero. The only woman who has tremendous effect on him is Kamla Nehru, his wife. In this book, Neh ...more
May 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
I started this book, with great anticipation to look at the pieces of Indo Pak history and condition of India (Pre Partitioned), though it give a great deal of light on the personality and life of Mr. Nehru, yet it seized to give a account of the situation.

It shows how hollow the thinking of those leaders of Congress. They were split and they all were having different dimensions, yet the course of history made them hero. I do give respect to the suffering they went into due to the cause of indep
Vineeth Kartha
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its more on the history of India. beautifully written and Nehru has clearly mentioned the conflicts in ideology he had with Gandhi at times. A better way to learn history of India during the independence struggle.
Razi Shaikh
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is a chapter on Jawaharlal Nehru, subtitled as Dharma, the Self's Aspiration, and Artha, the Self's Purpose, in the book Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India by Ananya Vajpeyi. She uses a curiously accurate term for Pandit Nehru, as someone who was 'a poet of nationhood.'

I was reminded of the term while reading his autobiography, and particularly so in its epilogue. Here's a telling excerpt from the same.

'...I've become quite a queer mixture of the East and the Wes
Revanth Ukkalam
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Among the various things that Nehru receives praise for, the preeminent must be his honesty and integrity. In his speeches, letters, interviews, and this autobiography, he reserves little for his heart. His passions, infatuations, aversions, fears and anxieties, disappointments, and vulnerabilities - everything, there is almost nothing that he does not meditate on. The book is far more realistic than most other auto-biographies, like Gandhi's for instance. There are no epiphanies in the book; th ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars for the book, 5 stars for the man

Though titled 'autobiography', it would be more apt to call it 'thoughts on contemporary events'. Since these thought were written during one of Pandit Nehru's long and many gaol terms, they carry a distinct meloncholy introspective tone. The book does not necessarily encourage as the gaol barriers make it difficult for a reader to intimately connect with the writer. And yet, somewhat amazingly, the reader can not help but appreciate Pandit Nehru for his
Yash Sharma
Apr 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An autobiography by Jawaharlal Nehru is not only the tale of the first prime minister of independent India, but also the thoughts of a man who was a diehard democrat, Patriot, cosmopolitan and one of the leading personalities of the twentieth century.

And before we start exploring about the protagonist of this article one thing which I wanna clear for the readers or non readers alike that this book is quite heavy to read.

I would suggest for a layman to go for some good biographies written on Ne
Mahesh K Adewar
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Not that insightful, as I had expected!! !!

First and foremost the book is too bulky (~700) pages.

Flow of the book is not that great. It's sometimes check your patience and even if you skip some paragraph you won't loose anything.

It goes into too much details in the events of 1930's. Would have expected broad narration of events and more personal insight/ thought from the Nehru( a Statesman).

Though bulky and a bit boaring this gives a good tilt of mind of the first Prime Minister of India who
May 30, 2021 rated it liked it
I really had high expectations from this, but like almost all of autobios/bios I’ve read this too was disappointing.
After reading more than 650 pages, I know less about Nehru than I knew before reading this.

Somehow this read more like a collection of essays on contemporary India and Indian freedom movement rather than an autobiographical account. Not unexpected though, since he was intricately interlinked with both. But the essential personal touch of autobiographies was missing.
আহ়মেদ আবরার
Gave 3 stars for its difficult prose in Bengali translation. I am not sure who is really responsible for this- Nehru or the translator, but it's not much accessible to today's youth. Its publisher, Ananda Publishers Private Limited, has to retell it with help of a good translator. ...more
Nishi A
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read.
Arun Pandiyan
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I started this book with a preconceived notion that the subject discussed would be entirely personal and a lot of it would be dry. Fifty pages into it gave me an immense curiosity to read more of it. Mr Nehru, the man who spent 9 years i.e approximately 3500+ days of his life in prison during the independence movement had greatest tales of Indian and World History to tell his daughter Indira in form of letter which were later published as 'Glimpses of World H
Adarsh Vasista
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Autobiography is, arguably, one of the most difficult genres of literature. It is always in the frontier of self-admiration. So, autobiography is one of the most important ways to paint a person. In that respect, after reading quite many autobiographies, I treat this book as one of the 'truest' autobiographies. Nehru, with his lucid style and eloquence, has surpassed the struggle of writing and made it as interesting as a tale. I rather saw an intellectually stimulating conflicts that rose in Pa ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The first 400 pages were just like I felt in India: a mess. It looked like all the Congress activity was chaotic and pointless and all those politicians seemed a bit ridiculous - or maybe absurd? But it was fluently written and in a way it all came together, so I went 'til the end. And amazingly enough I enjoyed the last part: the analysis of a number of social, political and national aspects was a lot deeper than the first part had shown him capable of. Indeed his thoughts were bigger than his ...more
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru - the first Prime Minister of independent India, maker of Modern India and the man the right-wingers love to hate today.
This is his autobiography, not written as a reflection in the sunset years of his life - in fact, it was compiled much earlier, in the 1930s, mostly as a collection of his writings during the many years he spent in prison as part of the fight for Independence against the British rule. And as a result of the time period, it gives a very personal peek int
Zubair Habib
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gandhi is the well known icon for South Africa and India, but I had never been too much exposed to Nehru . It’s clear how Gandhi rose to his position, but it’s still not clear to me how Nehru got to his, the best I can figure is that his father had a significant legal world position and that accelerated Nehrus progression into the Indian Congress Party.

As an arbitrary person , outside of his political personage, I was really drawn in. A man of great humility combined with great strength has dram
Shiven Shiven
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a surprise as I hadn't heard of this book ever. His other books were quite famous and this was never talked about. Miraculously, I got my hands on this book at the Mussoorie Library and was amazed by the honesty of the author. Be it his father's hatred for Indians especially the lowly ones or his blatant weakness for women, he has put everything out in this book. The freedom movements were nicely portrayed and his relationship with Gandhiji is given the wings of imagination, however. I ...more
Dishant Boora
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book gives you insight about one of the founding fathers of independent Indian and is constitution. It exhibits his individuality, his personal struggle, his respect but disagreements with Mahatma Gandhi also. He also shares his opinion about international topics like the Russian Revolution, World Wars, American issues. He admits that his political party is a burgeousie party He admits that he is not an ideal man but gives strong support for constant self -improvement. Apart from his love for hi ...more
Tamanjit Bindra
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
Really felt like i should have been living during the time. JLN tends to bring out a lot of soul of the pre independence era, his own likes, dislikes, shortcomings, besides his time during his jail terms. I personally felt very near JLN whenever the mentions of his life in jail came up. the book is essentially unputdownable. Tends to bring out the human element of great people.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
He's quite frank here. Sometimes, I couldn't help thinking "this guy is not THAT brilliant a leader". In that sense, this book gives good insights into the minds of those involved in indian freedom struggle. ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nehru as a politician, or more precisely as Prime Minister, may not be held in esteem by one and all. But the ideas in this book are definitely worthy of admiration. I would recommend this book to everybody; the richness of his ideas make this book worth a read!
Ajit Kumar
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In just two word, i think , it is a 'Tremendous book'. Got familiar with Nehru ji modern thinking about life, Nation, society, economy, politics etc. Very worthily book to read if you have some ideas about modern history of India. ...more
Bharath Dwarakanath
Opens you into the world of 1920's and 30's. Also the author's impartial take on things is something to reckon. ...more
Sahil Chopra
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Exceptionally well written
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first Prime Minister of an independent India, and plays the part well. He certainly stood on the shoulder's of giants, and saw further. A mixed bag of political views, personal anecdotes, visionary's struggle and a solid measure of humility makes this a one of a kind read.

I guess the 'Nehruvian Policy' which often got overshadowed by Gandhian philosophy needs to be viewed well, if one is interested in knowing more about India's independence struggle!
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Annihilation of Caste
  • Lajja: Shame
  • India's Struggle for Independence
  • Gandhi: An autobiography
  • Nine Lives
  • India Since Independence
  • The Accidental Prime Minister (The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh)
  • Connect The Dots
  • The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity
  • Journey to the End of the Night
  • History of Modern India
  • The Gathering Storm (The Second World War, #1)
  • Mansarovar Short Stories by Premchand
  • Four Plays: The Clouds/The Birds/Lysistrata/The Frogs
  • आषाढ़ का एक दिन
  • Orientalism
  • The Past As Present: Forging Contemporary Identities Through History
  • Patriots and Partisans
See similar books…
First prime minister of independent India (1947 – 64), Nehru was educated at home and in Britain and became a lawyer in 1912. More interested in politics than law, he was impressed by Mohandas K. Gandhi's approach to Indian independence. His close association with the Indian National Congress began in 1919; in 1929 he became its president, presiding over the historic Lahore session that proclaimed ...more

Related Articles

  Walter Isaacson, it’s safe to say, is not afraid of tackling the really big topics. In 2011, he wrote about our ubiquitous computer culture...
112 likes · 20 comments
“What the mysterious is I do not know. I do not call it God because God has come to mean much that I do not believe in. I find myself incapable of thinking of a deity or of any unknown supreme power in anthropomorphic terms, and the fact that many people think so is continually a source of surprise to me. Any idea of a personal God seems very odd to me.” 23 likes
“Aurobindo Ghose writes somewhere of the present as 'the pure and virgin moment,' that razor's edge of time and existence which divides the past from the future, and is, and yet, instantaneously is not. The phrase is attractive and yet what does it mean? The virgin moment emerging from the veil of the future in all its naked purity, coming into contact with us, and immediately becoming the soiled and stale past. Is it we that soil it and violate it? Or is the moment not so virgin after all, for it is bound up with all the harlotry of the past?” 1 likes
More quotes…