Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny / Edition 1

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New York, NY 1996 Hard cover NEW, Hardcover edition as pictured. ISBN 0195100735 New in new dust jacket. Signed by author. NEW, Hardcover edition as pictured. ISBN 0195100735. ... Autographed Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 568 p. Audience: General/trade. NEW, Hardcover edition as pictured. ISBN 0195100735. Autographed Read more Show Less

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Jawaharlal Nehru was India's royal figure, its matinee idol, its most gifted prime minister. He combined a unique array of talents: compelling oratory, a brilliant mind, good looks, a keen political sense, but he also suffered from brooding isolation. He left an indelible mark on both the country he led to independence, and the world in which he lived. Yet even though Nehru wrote more about himself than did any other modern Indian, "Panditji's" true face has always remained veiled.
Following Nehru from childhood, through his Harrow and Cambridge education, to his years as nationalist leader and Prime Minister of India, Stanley Wolpert's compelling, authoritative biography strips Nehru of his many cloaks and covers, removing the public masks he fashioned for himself throughout his mature life. With a subtle analysis of the various influences on Nehru's intellectual and political life--including the early homosexual influences, his conflict with his father, his close relationship with Mahatma Gandhi, his English education, and the years of periodic and sometimes prolonged imprisonment--Wolpert lays open to the reader the most nuanced, insightful rendering of Nehru's life yet written.
Wolpert describes Nehru's brief career as a barrister, and his devotion to India's struggle for freedom, following in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi to the dust and poverty of India's villages. The book traces Jawaharlal's swift rise to the presidency of India's National Congress, revealing how his radical ideas and fearless leadership of Congress's left wing soon won him the martyrdom of long years behind British bars for conducting civil disobedience campaigns. After his release in 1945, Nehru met Lord Mountbatten, with whom he was destined to negotiate the independence and partition of British India into the nation states of India and Pakistan in 1947. Nehru then went on to become India's immensely popular Prime Minister for almost two decades.
Wolpert brings Nehru's complex personality to life against a vividly portrayed picture of India's fascinating history throughout its most turbulent century. He shows how India's own destiny was intimately wrapped up in the destiny of Nehru, a charismatic leader who stands among the twentieth century's foremost statesmen.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Stanley Wolpert's Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny is a magisterial work about one of the twentieth century's major historical figures. It is written with great style and it embodies many years of painstaking scholarship. It is a most welcome addition to the modern history of India by one of the leading scholars of modern South Asia. Stanley Wolpert has done justice to Nehru and his legacy."--Vartan Gregorian, Professor of History and President, Brown University

"There have been biographies of Jawaharlal Nehru before. There will be more to come. This one will stand as the best, past and, I cannot doubt, future as well. Everyone interested in the larger history of the century just passed must turn to it. These are strong words, strongly meant."--John Kenneth Gailbraith, Harvard University

"Stanley Wolpert, America's leading south Asian expert, has given us a compelling, brilliant portrait of Nehru that will be applauded not only by experts on India but an audience eager to understand the recent history of that extraordinary country. Wolpert's Nehru is biography at its best; an engaging portrait of a towering modern figure who affected all our lives. This book will become the starting point for all future work on Nehru."--Robert Dallek, UCLA

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jawaharlal Nehru was a Kashmiri Brahmin who felt more at home in London than in India, a modern secular man who consented to an arranged marriage with full Hindu rites. UCLA historian Wolpert relies heavily on published materials to paint this warts-and-all portrait of India's brilliant and charismatic first prime minister. Wolpert (Jinnah of Pakistan; Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan) never got at the golden fleece of Nehru biographersthe love letters between Nehru and Lady Edwina Mountbatten, and other private papers "still locked away by foolish heirs and self-appointed guardians." Still, he convincingly goes beneath Nehru's exalted image to reveal some pesky demons. Nehru's power struggles with his father, his differences with Mohandas Gandhi and his close, enduring ties to his daughter and political heir, Indira, are well delineated. Treatment of the Edwina Mountbatten liaison, however, tantalizes rather than satisfies, and we're left wondering about the apparent collusion of her husband, Louis "Dickie" Mountbatten. The book is strongest on the time period 1918 through 1947, when Nehru's frequent imprisonment for political activities gave him ample time to assemble his written legacy to the world. Wolpert's chapters on the post-independence era are skimpier. He highlights Nehru's foreign and domestic policy failures and suggests that India's George Washington, through egotism, stubbornness and emotional blindness, made some tragic mistakes for which his country paid dearly. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Though Wolpert is well known both for his histories of India and his biographies of Jinnah and Bhutto of Pakistan, (e.g., Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan, LJ 5/1/93), this book is unsatisfactory in several respects. First, quotations and elipses are used excessively, often accounting for more than half the length of a paragraph. Second, Wolpert spends over 300 pages discussing Nehru's role in the freedom struggle but fewer than 100 on his activities in independent India. Third, Kashmir is virtually the only postindependence topic discussed at length. Given Wolpert's prominence, most libraries with an interest in Asia will want to get this book, but it is not one of his stronger efforts.Donald Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Donna Seaman
Historian Wolpert, an expert in the politics of India and Pakistan and author of a biography of Zulfi Bhutto (1993), is fascinated by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India. Gratified to have conversed with the charismatic, mercurial, and erudite Nehru in the late 1950s, Wolpert brings the penetrating energy of a longtime admirer to his vigorous portrait, articulating the complexity, passion, secretiveness, and conviction of the man himself, as well as conjuring all the incredible drama and conflict of India's battle for independence. Wolpert quotes from Nehru's speeches, correspondence, and prison writings to evoke his powerful voice. These excerpts, in tandem with Wolpert's richly detailed commentary, chronicle the evolution of Nehru's radical political beliefs and all his courageous and tireless strategizing, protesting, compromising, campaigning, and decision making, efforts that made him an unstoppable force in India's march toward freedom. Some of the most compelling sections describe Nehru's imprisonments, expose the painful side of his private life, and reveal the full story of his difficult relationship with Gandhi.
Kirkus Reviews
The story of one of the giants of 20th-century history, here given an added psychoanalytic twist.

Jawaharlal Nehru (18901964) belongs, with Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and Mao, on a list of the primary shapers of mid-20th-century history. The outlines of his heroic public life, as one of the leaders of India's long battle for independence and as the new nation's highly visible prime minister, are well known. Fascinated with the riddles of his inner life, Wolpert (History/UCLA) adds to our knowledge of Nehru's personality. His judicious psychoanalytic commentary on Nehru's relationship with his father, Motilal Nehru, and with Mahatma Gandhi portrays an ongoing triangle of political intrigue, emotional competition, and mutual frustration. Wolpert deploys psychological theories with a light touch and sustains his points with lengthy quotations from Nehru's own writings. But his approach seems to fail him when dealing with Nehru's complex relationships with women. The leader's wife and mother remain shadowy, unhappy figures, obviously important but apparently without a point of view. Wolpert clearly delineates a woman's outlook only when he focuses on Nehru's daughter Indira, the future prime minister. He stresses the formative influences of Nehru's education at Harrow (a prestigious English private school) and Cambridge. Nehru brought home from England a sense of the inevitable triumph of some vague form of state socialism and a secularist dismissal of the importance of religion in modern history. His secularism and faith in government planning served him well in his roles as agitator and nation builder. But Nehru's failure to deal with religious rivalries contributed to the violent creation of Pakistan, and his stubborn belief in central government planning now seems simplistic.

Striking a wise balance between sophistication and deference to the reader's need for explanations, Wolpert illuminates the aspirations and fears behind Nehru's compulsive drive toward power in India and influence in the wider world.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195100730
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/3/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 568
  • Product dimensions: 6.53 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.67 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Stanley Wolpert, Distinguished Professor of Indian History at the University of California, Los Angeles, first met Nehru in 1957-1958 when he lived in India for a year as a Ford Foundation Fellow working on his Ph.D. dissertation, published as the comparative biography, Tilak and Gokhale. Wolpert's more recent biographies include Jinnah of Pakistan and Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan. His A New History of India will appear this year in its fifth edition.

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