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Mahatma Gandhi's ideas and achievements rank preeminent among leaders of the twentieth century. Dennis Dalton's study of Gandhi's life and thought identifies the crucial link between his political philosophy and his activism and sets forth new ideas about Gandhi's inclusive style of politics. Dalton begins by tracing Gandhi's formative experiences in South Africa between 1893 and 1914 where his method of nonviolent resistance, or satyagraha, was born and melded with his concept of swaraj - personal and political liberation. After examining Gandhi's emergence as a national leader in India between 1919 and 1922, Dalton provides an indepth analysis of two of his signal triumphs: the 1930 civil disobedience campaign against the British and the 1947 Calcutta fast for Hindu-Muslim unity. Dalton brings fresh insight to these important years by culling information from unpublished sources and interviews with numerous participants, including those who joined Gandhi's Salt March to the sea. Dalton places Gandhi's ideas within the historical context of his interaction with the British government and with the religious communities of India. He pays particular attention to the role of religious faith in Gandhi's social reform, how his views on the caste system affected his political activism, and his debates with the Marxist theoretician M. N. Roy and the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Dalton concludes with a stirring comparison of Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and assesses the lasting importance of Gandhi's ideas. "His claim to uniqueness rests both on the originality of his thought and even more on his uncanny ability to put his theory into practice," writes Dalton. "Because key ideas like freedom and power so concerned him, the creative ways that he translated them into action remain exciting today, almost fifty years after his death."
Reglorifies the nonviolence and self-sacrifice of Gandhi by examining the Salt March of 1937 and the 1947 fast against Hindu-Muslim riots in Calcutta. Also compares the Indian leader to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Includes a glossary without pronunciation. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Journal of Asian Studies
The product of seasoned research and of several decades of teaching, reading, thinking, and acting on Gandhi's ideas. It is a rich stew, and a feast for those who appreciate careful scholarship and the continuing power of Gandhian thought.... Dalton's book helps to ensure that Gandhi's voice will be heard beyond this generation and this century, and well into the next.
English Historical Review
This is more than a biography or a political history. We are offered a penetrating analysis of Gandhian philosophy as revealed in his most individual operations.
Economic and Political Weekly
Sensitive, sympathetic, and lucid.
Modern Asian Studies
[Dalton's] new approach to place Gandhi in the context of other major political and social leaders of India, and then assess him as a successful leader, appeared to enhance the methodology of this very well informed and analyzed book, which deserves a place in any good library in the world.
American Historical Review
Represents the culmination of decades of research and study... which accounts for Dalton's sureness of touch, cogent handling of ideas, lucid prose, and effortless movement between theory and narrative.... Although it adds important new dimensions to the specialist's understanding of Gandhi, it can also serve as a readable and absorbing introduction to the man.
Thoughtful and original.
"[Dalton's] valuable insight is that Gandhi's formation of himself as a leader represented a strategy of defense against fear and shame.... The broad scope of references and the command of detail on Indian politics and political theory that the work exhibits bear witness to long and thoughtful research.
Ainslie T. Embree
In this masterly analysis, Dalton shows how Gandhi's vision of a good life expressed itself in political action. Dalton has very wisely included what one seldom finds in books on Gandhi: examples of the trenchant criticism of his methods and his ideas that were made by Indian contemporaries.
Susanne Hoeber Rudolph
A beautiful, fine-grained piece of historical and textual research; cool, committed, and convincing in an intellectual terrain strewn with excessively passionate convictions. Dalton 'shows' rather than tells, through a meticulous examination of official speeches and administrative responses, the deep doubts about the legitimacy of their acts that Gandhi implanted in the minds of the highest and lowest British officials. Dalton also shows how the Mahatma's public enactment of self-sacrifice and renunciation demonstrated an efficacy not granted in conventional political acts within the context of religious viciousness and killing: lessons for Gandhi's era and ours.
Dennis Dalton was the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science and is now emeritus at Barnard College, Columbia University. The winner of a Fulbright scholarship and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Institute, he is the author of Indian Idea of Freedom: Political Thought of Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghose, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rabindranath Tagore and editor of Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writings.