100 books like Subaltern Studies

By Ranajit Guha,

Here are 100 books that Subaltern Studies fans have personally recommended if you like Subaltern Studies. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth

David Hardiman Author Of Gandhi in His Time and Ours: The Global Legacy of His Ideas

From my list on Mahatma Gandhi and his life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have for over fifty years studied and written about the Indian nationalist movement, examining it from many different angles. I lived and worked for many years in India. I have throughout had an appreciative but often troubled relationship with Gandhi – admiring him for much of what he stood for, while finding it hard to accept many of his beliefs and actions. This will be apparent to anyone reading the books that I have written. Despite this, I have a deep respect for a man who was undoubtedly a towering figure in twentieth-century history.   

David's book list on Mahatma Gandhi and his life

David Hardiman Why did David love this book?

Gandhi wrote this book, his autobiography, between 1925 and 1929, when he was in his late fifties. It focuses on his formative years, showing how he forged his distinctive style of activism in South Africa and India. It is remarkable for its honesty, even when Gandhi had shameful memories to relate, as when he struck his wife, Kasturba, in anger.  His aim is to show how he changed himself in ways that would make such violent behavior on his part impossible. His ‘truth’ is that of nonviolence and he describes the experiments that he undertook in establishing his nonviolence at both a personal and political level. It is a compelling read that brings out brilliantly Gandhi’s style of thinking and his personality. It is in my opinion a classic of twentieth-century literature. 

By Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Autobiography as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who was Gandhi? In the midst of resurging interest in the man who freed India, inspired the American Civil Rights Movement, and is revered, respected, and misunderstood all over the world, the time is proper to listen to Gandhi himself — in his own words, his own "confessions," his Autobiography.
  
Gandhi made scrupulous truth-telling a religion, and his Autobiography inevitably reminds one of other saints who have suffered and burned for their lapses. He gives a simply narrated account of his boyhood in Gujarat, marriage at age 13, legal studies in England, and a growing desire for purity and reform.…


Book cover of The Un-Gandhian Gandhi: The Life and Afterlife of the Mahatma

David Hardiman Author Of Gandhi in His Time and Ours: The Global Legacy of His Ideas

From my list on Mahatma Gandhi and his life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have for over fifty years studied and written about the Indian nationalist movement, examining it from many different angles. I lived and worked for many years in India. I have throughout had an appreciative but often troubled relationship with Gandhi – admiring him for much of what he stood for, while finding it hard to accept many of his beliefs and actions. This will be apparent to anyone reading the books that I have written. Despite this, I have a deep respect for a man who was undoubtedly a towering figure in twentieth-century history.   

David's book list on Mahatma Gandhi and his life

David Hardiman Why did David love this book?

Markowitz starts with the iconic images of Gandhi – Father of the Indian Nation, the modern saint, the apostle of nonviolence, and so on – and unpicks them to show how selective they are. He examines with great insight the way that Gandhi’s image was created in the West from the 1920s onwards, with him often being compared to Christ. Attenborough’s influential film on Gandhi is reviewed in revealing ways. He also examines the many biographies of Gandhi, showing how they have tended to focus on aspects of his message and fail to bring out the huge complexities of the man. 

He shows how Gandhi’s reputation as a serious political and economic thinker was shaped in the West first by pacifists and alternative thinkers, and much later by academic social scientists. He also provides some excellent analysis of Gandhi’s career in South Africa and India. The book is full of…

By Claude Markovits,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Un-Gandhian Gandhi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This major study reconsiders the creation of the Gandhian legend through the myriad texts and images that helped spread it through both India and the Western world.


Book cover of Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life

David Hardiman Author Of Gandhi in His Time and Ours: The Global Legacy of His Ideas

From my list on Mahatma Gandhi and his life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have for over fifty years studied and written about the Indian nationalist movement, examining it from many different angles. I lived and worked for many years in India. I have throughout had an appreciative but often troubled relationship with Gandhi – admiring him for much of what he stood for, while finding it hard to accept many of his beliefs and actions. This will be apparent to anyone reading the books that I have written. Despite this, I have a deep respect for a man who was undoubtedly a towering figure in twentieth-century history.   

David's book list on Mahatma Gandhi and his life

David Hardiman Why did David love this book?

Tidrick explores with much insight the influences on Gandhi that shaped his spiritual and political life, ranging from the vegetarian movement, theosophy, esoteric Christianity, nineteenth-century authors and thinkers such as Ruskin, Thoreau, and Tolstoy, along with his sometimes-eccentric understanding of Hinduism. She shows how he saw his mission as divinely-inspired, and his belief that – so long as he upheld his ‘truth’ with rigour – he would have the power to change the world. Gandhi had at times his doubts as to his purity and thus his abilities in this respect, leading him into some ‘experiments’ that could disturb his close followers, as when he sought to test his chastity. In this book, Tidrick reveals Gandhi’s idiosyncrasies in illuminating ways.   

By Kathryn Tidrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gandhi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout his long and turbulent career as an Indian leader, first in South Africa and then in India, Gandhi sought to fulfill his religious aspirations through politics, and to reconcile politics with his private religious discipline. The Gandhi revealed here is not the secular saint of popular renown, but a difficult and self-obsessed man driven by a sense of unique personal destiny. Penetrating and provocative, Tidrick draws on material previously ignored by Gandhi's biographers and explores the paradoxes within his life and beliefs. Did the nationalist leader truly believe that he was not just fighting for Indian independence but also…


Book cover of Gandhi Before India

Todd Hasak-Lowy Author Of We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World

From my list on inspirational nonviolent leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the early years of the Trump presidency, I looked for a subject that would inspire young readers, and keep me from falling into despair. I loved researching this topic and finding ways to do justice to the incredible people and the movements at the center of my book. Simply put, it was a joy to become an expert on this important topic. There are so many reasons to be pessimistic about the state of the world, but these stories give me hope that together we can create a better future for everyone.

Todd's book list on inspirational nonviolent leaders

Todd Hasak-Lowy Why did Todd love this book?

We all know the Gandhi in sandals and white khadi robes, but how did Gandhi become Gandhi? Guha narrates the remarkable transformation of Gandhi from a timid, London-trained lawyer into a bold, inventive activist advocating for the rights of the Indian immigrant community in South Africa. This engaging, meticulously researched book describes the emergence of Gandhi’s intertwined philosophy and politics, which together reintroduced nonviolence as a potent force to the tumultuous twentieth century.

By Ramachandra Guha,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gandhi Before India as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

A revelatory work of biography, Gandhi Before India is an illuminating portrait of the life, the work, and the historical context of one of the most abidingly influential—and controversial—men in modern history. From Gandhi’s birth in 1869, through his upbringing in Gujarat and his years as a student in London, to his two decades as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa, acclaimed author Ramachandra Guha brings the past to light with extraordinary grace and clarity. Drawing on a wealth of newly uncovered…


Book cover of Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India

Bryant Wieneke Author Of Priority One

From my list on political thrillers promoting peaceful solutions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I quit my job in 1994 to write. Fiction. It took me a while to find my niche, but what I realized is that I wanted to write political thrillers that were about more than how to stop the bad guys from killing the good guys by killing them first. There is another way. Starting with Priority One, and continuing to what is currently my tenth novel in the series, I imagine an American foreign policy that promotes the building of a more peaceful world through a combination of economic justice and humanitarianism, applied practically and pragmatically. It’s my dream for my fiction, as well as the real world.

Bryant's book list on political thrillers promoting peaceful solutions

Bryant Wieneke Why did Bryant love this book?

If I want to write novels that promote steps toward peaceful solutions to seemingly intractable global problems, I must invoke Mahatma Gandhi’s spirit. His practical application of nonviolence was pivotal to achieving India’s independence from England, and it is a model for us all. In Great Soul, Lelyveld depicts a man beset by doubt, who recognized his own fallibility, and yet he was able to change the world – without violence and without sacrificing his principles. I would hope that in reading this excellent biography, I have learned something about how to get things done peacefully in our complex world, and to imagine a better day.

By Joseph Lelyveld,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Great Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A highly original, stirring book on Mahatma Gandhi that deepens our sense of his achievements and disappointments—his success in seizing India’s imagination and shaping its independence struggle as a mass movement, his recognition late in life that few of his followers paid more than lip service to his ambitious goals of social justice for the country’s minorities, outcasts, and rural poor.

Pulitzer Prize–winner Joseph Lelyveld shows in vivid, unmatched detail how Gandhi’s sense of mission, social values, and philosophy of nonviolent resistance were shaped on another subcontinent—during two decades in South Africa—and then tested by an India that quickly learned…


Book cover of Threads of Peace: How Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Changed the World

Tina Athaide Author Of Orange for the Sunsets

From my list on historical events unfolding.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I loved escaping into my character’s world—solving mysteries with Nancy Drew, getting into trouble like Anne from Anne of Green Gables, and diving into adventures with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. But I never saw anyone like myself in those books. A girl with black hair and coffee-colored skin, who licked the last samosa crumb off her fingers. That's one of the reasons I write and read historical fiction. It allows you to take a ride with a person from that place and time, and the first rule of time travel is that you cannot change the past. But when you finish reading you may discover that the past has changed you. 

Tina's book list on historical events unfolding

Tina Athaide Why did Tina love this book?

I greatly admire Mohandas Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., so I was intrigued when I heard about this book that looked at the common threads between two amazing historical figures who shared a goal of social reform. Being South Asian, I am very familiar with Mohandas Gandhi, and after moving to the United States, I learned a lot about the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and this book revealed what led these two men down the path of peace. Even today, it saddens me that both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. met their end to life by assassinations. I have only recently added this book to my classroom library, but anticipate it will be a popular choice among my students.

By Uma Krishnaswami,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Threads of Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

"Inviting and original." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Mohandas Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. both shook and changed the world in their quest for peace among all people, but what threads connected these great activists together in their shared goal of social revolution?

A lawyer and activist, tiny of stature with giant ideas, in British-ruled India at the beginning of the 20th century.

A minister from Georgia with a thunderous voice and hopes for peace at the height of the civil rights movement in America.

Born more than a half-century apart, with seemingly little in common except one shared…


Book cover of Labels of Empire: Textile Trademarks - Windows Into India in the Time of the Raj

Peter Koepke Author Of Patterns, Inside the Design Library

From my list on textile for your design library.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nearly 50 years ago I was completely taken with the patterns drawn, woven, or embroidered by the Indigenous Peoples of the Upper Amazon of Peru. This was my first experience with the power of pattern and led to a career in collecting and curating the pottery and textiles from that area. By the end of the 1980s, I was ready to start a family and a more settled job. The Design Library was the perfect segue. The patterns created in Europe, Africa, and Asia over the past 250 years are also important cultural statements and are continually re-interpreted by our clients for today's market.

Peter's book list on textile for your design library

Peter Koepke Why did Peter love this book?

I am immediately drawn to this magnificent book for the many textile designs it contains and then, a new discovery for me, the vitality of the label imagery. The labels are sensual and sensational, devotional and secular. Most were created by British artists inspired by earlier Indian paintings and engravings just as so many textile designs are descendants of earlier patterns.

I learned how the stories told by these labels provide a rich view into an important period of British textile history and trade as well as Indian culture – from the heavenly realm of the Hindu Gods to the earthly palaces of Maharajas – from the mill workers of Lancashire to the khadi-clad followers of Mahatma Gandhi.   

This book will be released in February/March 2023, but advance orders are being taken. Just take a peek and brace yourself for a wild, wonderful trip. Over 1000 period labels illustrate the…

By Susan Meller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Labels of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At one time Great Britain clothed the world. In the 1880s, when the British textile industry was at its height, 85 percent of the world's population wore clothing made from fabric produced in the mills of Lancashire. From 1910 to 1913 alone, seven billion yards of cloth were folded, stamped, labeled, and baled. Most of this output was for export, and 30 percent of it went to India.

British textile manufacturers selling into the competitive Indian market were dealing with a largely illiterate population. In order to differentiate their goods, they stamped their cloth with distinctive images-a crouching tiger or…


Book cover of The Life of Mahatma Gandhi

John Dear Author Of A Persistent Peace: One Man's Struggle for a Nonviolent World

From my list on the greatest modern peacemakers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my entire life in pursuit of peace and nonviolence, and tried to be a peacemaker to our poor world of permanent warfare, extreme poverty, systemic violence, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction. I’ve organized hundreds of demonstrations, spoken to a million people, written some forty books on peace and nonviolence, been arrested 85 times, traveled the warzones of the world—all the while trying to practice peace and nonviolence, and not doing a good job of it. That’s why I look to the examples of legendary peacemakers who lived the life of peace and changed the world with their disarming presence, people like Gandhi, Dr. King, Dorothy Day, Daniel Berrigan and Thomas Merton.

John's book list on the greatest modern peacemakers

John Dear Why did John love this book?

I consider Mahatma Gandhi one of the greatest peacemakers in history. He showed us how to use nonviolence at every level, even how to get the British empire to leave India peacefully. I have read the entire 100 volumes of Gandhi’s writings and many biographies, and edited my own collection but Fischer is the best and knew Gandhi personally. His biography continues to inspire me forty years after I first read it because he brings out some of Gandhi’s strongest teachings on nonviolence, including the connections with self-denial, prayer, fasting, and being willing to go to prison to stop injustice and war. I think he captures the radical spirit of Gandhi best. This book is my go-to book for peacemaking inspiration.

By Louis Fischer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life of Mahatma Gandhi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a biography of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948). He led the fight for Indian independence from British rule, who tirelessly pursued a strategy of passive resistance, and who was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic only a few months after independence was achieved.


Book cover of Such a Long Journey

Samrat Upadhyay Author Of Mad Country

From my list on fiction that make political feel intensely persona.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Nepal, where politics was part and parcel of everyday life. During my childhood and teenage years, we lived under a monarchy, where the king was supreme. Yet there was always a simmering tension between what was a mildly authoritarian rule and what the people’s aspirations were. As I grew into adulthood, Nepal saw a massive uprising that ushered in a multiparty system, then later, after a bloody Maoist civil war, the overthrow of the crown. Yet, even amidst all these political upheavals, people do live quotidian lives, and the space between these two seemingly disparate things has always felt like a literary goldmine to me. 

Samrat's book list on fiction that make political feel intensely persona

Samrat Upadhyay Why did Samrat love this book?

As an author from Nepal, I have learned the most from Rohinton Mistry than any other South Asian writer about how to “translate” the landscape and language of my country for an international audience. Such a Long Journey was the first novel that taught me how to integrate the social and political seamlessly into the psychological makeup of my protagonist—in an English that is uniquely local. In the novel, Gustad Noble, a devoted family man, gets snared into the deception and corruption of the government under Indira Gandhi. It’s a riveting read, and Mistry is superb with vivid descriptions. That the book was banned in certain conservative circles in India makes it even more of a gem. 

By Rohinton Mistry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Such a Long Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is Bombay in 1971, the year India went to war over what was to become Bangladesh. A hard-working bank clerk, Gustad Noble is a devoted family man who gradually sees his modest life unravelling. His young daughter falls ill; his promising son defies his father’s ambitions for him. He is the one reasonable voice amidst the ongoing dramas of his neighbours. One day, he receives a letter from an old friend, asking him to help in what at first seems like an heroic mission. But he soon finds himself unwittingly drawn into a dangerous network of deception. Compassionate, and…


Book cover of Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal

Michael Baltutis Author Of The Festival of Indra: Innovation, Archaism, and Revival in a South Asian Performance

From my list on Kathmandu, Nepal.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having spent two years living in Kathmandu over a half-dozen visits, I have had the wonderful opportunity to encounter, learn about, and be baffled by the many local cultures that intersect in Nepal’s capital and largest city. With a PhD in Religious Studies and expertise in the Sanskrit language of classical India, I turned to Nepal to examine religious life on the ground. Living in Kathmandu during the second People’s Movement of 2006 – and like everybody else then, under a “shoot to kill” curfew for three weeks – left an indelible mark on me and my scholarship on this magnificent place. 

Michael's book list on Kathmandu, Nepal

Michael Baltutis Why did Michael love this book?

This award-winning study combines accessible translations with local and global studies of the goddess Svasthani and her domestic devotees. A goddess little known outside of Nepal, Svasthani is embodied in the text itself and celebrated by families in the cold month of January.

Her only recent depiction as an icon in her own temple is a testament to the ever-changing forms of religion and culture in a corner of the world where living goddesses have long held significant power. 

By Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reciting the Goddess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reciting the Goddess is the first book-length study of Nepal's goddess Svasthani and the popular Svasthanivratakatha textual tradition. In the centuries following its origin as a simple local legend in the sixteenth century, the Svasthanivratakatha developed into a comprehensive Purana text that is still widely celebrated today among Nepal's Hindus with an annual month-long recitation. Jessica Birkenholtz uses the Svasthanivratakatha as a medium through
which to view the ways in which political and cultural shifts among Nepal's ruling elite were taken up by the general public.

Drawing on both archival and ethnographic research, the book examines Svasthani and the Svasthanivratakatha…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in India, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nepal?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about India, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nepal.

India Explore 445 books about India
Mahatma Gandhi Explore 13 books about Mahatma Gandhi
Nepal Explore 27 books about Nepal