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Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action

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Dennis Dalton's classic account of Gandhi's political and intellectual development focuses on the leader's two signal triumphs: the civil disobedience movement (or salt satyagraha) of 1930 and the Calcutta fast of 1947. Dalton clearly demonstrates how Gandhi's lifelong career in national politics gave him the opportunity to develop and refine his ideals. He then concludes with a comparison of Gandhi's methods and the strategies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, drawing a fascinating juxtaposition that enriches the biography of all three figures and asserts Gandhi's relevance to the study of race and political leadership in America. Dalton situates Gandhi within the "clash of civilizations" debate, identifying the implications of his work on continuing nonviolent protests. He also extensively reviews Gandhian studies and adds a detailed chronology of events in Gandhi's life.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

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.

New Statesman

Thoughtful and original.

Political Psychology

"[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.


An excellent book.

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 (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231159593
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface to the 2012 ReissuePrefaceIntroduction1. Satyagraha Meets Swaraj: The Development of Gandhi's Ideas 1896--19172. Gandhi as Leader: Nonviolence in Power3. Critiques of Gandhi from His Contemporaries: Rabindranath Tagore and M.N. Roy4. Civil Disobedience: The Salt Satyagraha5. The Calcutta Fast6. MohandasConclusion: Gandhi's Contribution from Various AnglesAfterword to the 2012 ReissueChronologyNotesGlossaryBibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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