Greg Tatum's Reviews > Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age

Gandhi and Churchill by Arthur Herman
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's review
Apr 18, 2011

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bookshelves: history, audiobooks, 2011

It's quite interesting how different contemporary historical figures have lives that are very similar in their arcs, and provide a unique way to compare and contrast two different cultures; the way the thematic elements in their lives came together, and the way that they diverged apart. Churchill and Gandhi were very different people, and yet they were at the forefront of two nations that had a very tightly integrated and yet disparate relationship.

Arthur Herman writes a largely engaging account of their two lives. Herman doesn't descend into the hero worship that tends to surround these characters, but really dives into what makes these figure both national heroes and men with faults, vices and errors of judgment. I couldn't help going away from the novel feeling like it was more about the life of Gandhi with Churchill thrown in as the counter-argument and British perspective. This book's major theme was the way the nation of India broke apart from its colonial status with these two figures as the narrative thread. It left me with a good picture of events, but also left me craving to know more. It's hard to write a book about Churchill and not include some of his influential role in WWII, but a lot of the drama of the war didn't directly contribute to the story of India, and that part of Churchill's life was abbreviated (and rightly so.) I'm definitely going to have to pick up a good Churchill biography after this read, perhaps after a year or so when the details of this book have started to fade.

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