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I, Phoolan Devi

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  527 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Phoolan Devi was born into a poor, low-caste family in Uttar Pradesh, living in a world that gave more respect to a stray dog than to a woman. At 11, she was married off and endured beatings, rapes and persecution. She survived being kidnapped by bandits and became one of them, learning how to shoot like a man. She also found love for the first time, but her lover was brut ...more
Published June 2nd 1997 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1996)
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Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Phoolan Devi will forever be my most loved, cherished and valued book of all time. I have read this book four times and plan on reading it again because, every couple of years, I change and view things differently. My experience reading this book has been different on all four occasions and I just fall more and more in love with this woman and her struggle. She is the most emotionally powerful human being I have ever heard of and I will always hold her as THE role model for women and young girls ...more
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this is one of my all-time favorite books. phoolan is the inspiration of so many of the characters in my own stories. i learned how to write a story that is relentless from this book; i learned how to write a WOMAN that is relentless from this book. her story is evidence that a woman born in complete bondage can still have the innate and natural will to fight for her freedom, that that WANT of freedom is not taught.

every few years, i reread this book. it's some serious heavy sh*t. it's also the
Kunjila Mascillamani
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to clear some doubts. When I watched ‘Bandit Queen’ by Shekhar Kapoor, I’d felt that something was wrong. That it was an upper caste, male narrative. Then I got to know that Phoolan Devi had moved court against the release of the film. So I bought her autobiography. Along with it, I bought ‘Outlaw’ : India’s Bandit Queen and me by Roy Moxham. My research list has grown bigger. I have more books to read before I – I don’t know – change the world?

What I found out, was that Shekhar
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story of Phoolan Devi is both harrowing and gut wrenching, while also being captivating and inspiring. She is beyond an inspiration and a true example of resilience and power. Her story and the awful things that happened to her are hard to read, but I'm so glad I read this book. It's one of those stories that will stick with me for a long time.
Catherine Kubiak
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so captivating. What a life Phoolan Devi led! So far beyond my comprehension. She has such a strong spirit to have endeavoured all that she did. Highly recommend!
Anna Greer
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I, Phoolan Devi is a true story that will continue to shock you again and again. It seems that the book takes place long ago, yet Phoolan's wild story actually spans from 1972-1995. The depth of the tragedies in Phoolan's life becomes immediately apparent, with the book detailing sexual abuse she faced at age 10 from her 35-year-old husband. At first, I was unsure if I could continue reading the memoir, as it often put me in a mad-at-the-world mood, but I told myself that it is important to unde ...more
Oct 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Hindophiles
This was a random selection in my biographies of women A-Z reading quest. It was worth reading if only to better understand the lives of the low castes in India. I was aware of how little the average family possesses in India but was not aware of the social, economic, physical, psychological and sexual abuse that accompany low status. If even half of what Devi dictated is true, it is appalling. Devi is a larger-than-life figure and some of her story seems over-embellished. She glosses over the i ...more
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The cover says," no reader can fail to be on her side". This is in fact true. Before coming across this legendary piece of work done by the author , i just knew that there was this dacoit named Phoolan Devi famously known as "the Bandit Queen". Never have i thought what led her to become a dacoit, no one chooses this as their ambition. Its a must read book.
This autobiography is gripping, intensely feminist and blunt in its descriptions of the gender-based violence and rigid caste system prejudices endured by the protagonist.

It charts the life of the "dacoit" or bandit queen Phoolan Devi. In Phoolan's own words, her story is told from her perspective, from her birth in poverty to her release from a jail in Delhi after 11 years of confinement without trial. She explains where her rage comes from, and how her turn to armed banditry was a means of reb
Katja Vartiainen
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This book is a horrific read. It is the dictated(I guess) autobiography of the Indian low caste woman Phoolan Devi, who was born into hardship filled poverty and ended up being a dacoit, a bandit queen.
It seems that her anger kept her alive through hunger, humiliation, injustice, tens of rapes and beatings. Ii#t is a good reminder of how the cast system went wrong in India, and that there still should (she was finally shot 2001, after she had been the member of parliament after her release) be m
A harrowing read. I found it difficult to read this at times and just wanted to abandon it altogether. The end of the biography is small consolation in light of the ordeals Phoolan Devi had to suffer and ordeals some women are still suffering because of caste, poverty and gender. A terrible story about a remarkable woman.
Katie Benton
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Phoolan Devi is such a strong, resilient woman. It was absolutely fascinating to read her raw story of all that she endured. She is such an inspiration to women everywhere.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing
Very triggerific but utterly badass. May you rest in power, Phoolan Devi.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
very intense especially while learning about the abuse geeta went through
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own-a-copy
Read this book.

Take care of yourself while you do - no woman should every have to endure what Phoolan Devi endured. Many do, and most never get to tell their story.

Read her story.
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Many reviewers find Phoolan Devi determined and worthy of her achievements. I am not objecting to that, but I am finding it remarkable that many admire her constraint of using violence. Strength of character is always strong with a desperate person holding a loaded rifle. A story surrounded to its complex culture and believes. That is always unique and must be interpreted from that perspective. Many do not have a full understanding and neither can it be understood by reading couple of books in t ...more
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
If you like "The Bandit Queen," you'll like this book. Warning: it is not an easy read due to the graphic nature of the contents. It's raw, gripping and heartfelt and takes the reader into a world hopefully they will never know: caste wars, extreme violence against women, and disregard for basic human rights. Yet the heroine (if you view her as such) nevertheless triumphs. I saw Phoolan Devi days before she was murdered and it etched a certain consciousness on me. Whether she's a hero, villain o ...more
Antoinette Perez
What a story. What a sad, unjust, angering, severe, unconscionable, vengeful story. My eyes are open wider, and Phoolan Devi's story, most of which takes place in the 1970's, gives helpful context and background to the horrifically brutal rape stories we've read about in India these past couple of years. Although I'm not one to preach how other countries need to change, it's clear that human rights and women's rights don't operate from the same baseline everywhere, and that needs to change. (The ...more
Azimah  Othman
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Born of a low caste, her story opens up life in the land so enveloped in the caste ideology and mentality plus the very corrupted authority. She survived because she was defiant and grew up to become the person that she was due to the denigration she received as a woman. Salvation came in the form of membership in a gang of Mallah and living like an Asian Robin Hood somewhat.

Though she did spend some time in jail, she later mounted a political career only to be assassinated later.
Nanda devi
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story I read once a year or so. The tale of Phoolan, who gets her revenge, and seeks justice for every woman in India is an inspiring one that I can not forget.
Phoolan survives by being just as cruel as her violators, and gained my respect and admiration ever since I first read her story, when I was 11.
Horrible, fascinating, and above all, true. Maybe not the most well written book, but her story and character makes up for everything.

I advise this book to everyone.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story from one person's admittedly biased perspective. Still, whether or not all of the details are true, this is a stirring read and one that taught me about a world I cannot imagine still existing in the 21st century.

She may be gone, but she was a real hero. Good for her - one woman taking on a corrupt system and, in spite of everything, triumphing.
Laurie Raye
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure what was more scary: What happened to her or her merciless strength of character. I knew her story before reading, knew she was assassinated, but although it isn't the best-written book in the world her amazing character and personality was so strongly present throughout the book I found it hard to believe she was dead.
Jul 29, 2011 added it
A heart wrenching tale of a life....A true story, its unfortunate to be born a girl in rural India, of low caste. Phoolan Devi's life is of the most horrific imaginable to someone born to the western world...BUT here is a girl whom I have the greatest admiration as she had the guts to rebel. Some would call it crime yet its revenge most deserved. This is a must read.

Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Emotionally charged story that highlights:
1. The misgivings of a misogynistic Indian society, at its worst.
2. The unimaginable atrocities that can happen if the lethal combination of classist culture, poverty and misogyny is given at regular intervals to a free woman
3. The gravity of staying silent in the presence of evil Vs the depravity of rebelling against rogues and monsters

Nazia Dean
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Also so inspiring, i think i can look upto her.
Strong, determined and so mcuh patience.
Love, Anger, Happiness, Sadness this book has it all and best part is that its a true heroism story. I just adore This lady.
No idea how to rate this one. An incredible life, the documentation of which was itself an incredible undertaking. Among one of the many take-aways: I have no right to complain about a single thing. Not one.
Chelsea Berry
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A harrowing read and hard for me to imagine the harsh lives women lead in this culture. Such a strong woman to overcome it all, to stand up to the people who mistreated her, and to leave a legacy for others.
Naomi Watts
Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was an excellent insight into the life of a woman caught up in a turbulent time, but refusing to be kept down. Her story is triumphant, and tragic.
Oct 30, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Naomi Pereira
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
best book I've read all year.A tale of oppression,the depths of depravity & one woman's fight to reclaim her integrity & triumph in India under the repressive caste system. ...more
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