The most recommended Mahatma Gandhi books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to Mahatma Gandhi, and here are their favorite Mahatma Gandhi books.
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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 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 Hind Swaraj Or Indian Home Rule

Jocelyn Davis Author Of The Art of Quiet Influence: Timeless Wisdom for Leading Without Authority

From my list on leadership for nerdy introverts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a history-philosophy-literature nerd who at a young age stumbled into a job at a global corporate training firm, where I learned a lot about leadership as I rose over two decades to become head of R&D. Then I was fired for insubordination, which just goes to show that introverts get into trouble, too. Having authored one book under company auspices, I decided to write another one on my own, one that combined my expertise in leadership development with my love for great stories and ideas. Now I’m up to five books, and they’re all the kind that a nerdy introverted troublemaker would want to read. 

Jocelyn's book list on leadership for nerdy introverts

Jocelyn Davis Why did Jocelyn love this book?

“Lead yourself first” has become a consultant’s cliché, but it wasn’t a cliché in November 1909 when fledgling barrister and political organizer Mohandas K. Gandhi wrote Hind Swaraj on a sea voyage returning from London. Swaraj can be translated in two ways: “home rule” or “self-rule.” Gandhi plays on the two meanings to construct a brilliant analysis of India’s situation that amazed me with its pertinence to the present day. His core advice to would-be leaders: Stop trying to master other people; instead, master yourself.

By Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hind Swaraj Or Indian Home Rule as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The doctrine of violence is more widely believed in than is generally realised. The votaries of violence can be divided into two classes. Some, a small and dwindling class, believe in it and are prepared to act according to their faith. Others, a very large class always, and now, after bitter experiences of the failure of constitutional agitation, larger than ever, believe in violence, but that belief does not lead them to action. It disables them from work on any basis other than force. The belief in violence serves to dissuade them from all other kinds of work or sacrifice.…


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 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 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 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 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 Personal and Organizational Transformation Towards Sustainability: Walking a Twin-Path

Bettina von Stamm Author Of The Other Side of Growth: An Innovator's Responsibilities in an Emerging World

From my list on today’s complex world and help our planet.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an innovation expert for over 30 years, I've been cautioning about the "dark side" of innovation and emphasized the importance of sustainability. Though in light of the urgency of our planet's situation, we need to shift our focus from sustainability to regeneration. The unprecedented complexity and connectedness of today’s world demand thinking in systems, and the kind of innovation that leads to the transformation of our current social and economic systems so we can live in harmony with nature. This requires us to question who we collaborate with, what we value, and how we create value. We need to work together differently, with different leadership, and to change our own ways of thinking.

Bettina's book list on today’s complex world and help our planet

Bettina von Stamm Why did Bettina love this book?

It is clear, at least to me, that significant, indeed transformation change is necessary if we are to preserve the beauty of our planet.

Well, not only the beauty, its ability to sustain life.

For such transformation to happen, we need to start with ourselves – most people will be familiar with the quote by Mahatma Gandhi: be the change you want to see in the world.

In her book Dorothea shares her own story, which is a journey of integrating the innovation and sustainability agendas for Philips, and of realizing the connectedness of the own personal development journey and the journey of developing as a leader.

By Dorothea Ernst,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Personal and Organizational Transformation Towards Sustainability as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by the WBCSD Vision 2050 in which "all people live well within the limits of the planet", this book asks how do we achieve this bold ambition? Telling a story of personal growth and corporate transformation, it provides insights and tools for anyone driving sustainable development within their organizations and in their own lives. Discover how you can consciously use your professional role as a source of change. Learn how the consistent use of few, yet meaningful visuals, enables generative dialogue and communication for aligned problem solving within multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder teams. See how personal mastery can guide you…


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…