The best Mahatma Gandhi books 📚

Browse the best books on Mahatma Gandhi as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Doctor and the Saint: Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste, the Debate Between B.R. Ambedkar and M.K. Gandhi

The Doctor and the Saint: Caste, Race, and Annihilation of Caste, the Debate Between B.R. Ambedkar and M.K. Gandhi

By Arundhati Roy

Why this book?

Anyone who follows India will be acquainted with the writing of Arundhati Roy. In this short and powerful book she focuses on two remarkable leaders of pre-independence India, Mahatma Gandhi and B. R. Ambedkar; the two clashed over the place of the Caste system – and Hinduism itself – in the future Indian nation. Ambedkar, an “Untouchable” (Dalit), believed that ending colonialism was not enough and the Untouchables could never be free until the “annihilation” of the entire Caste system. Gandhi believed that in building a national community there had to be a compromise with people’s strong attachment to Caste.…

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The best books on leadership and history

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

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

By Claude Markovits

Why 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…

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The best books on Mahatma Gandhi and his life

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Book cover of Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life

Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life

By Kathryn Tidrick

Why 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…

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The best books on Mahatma Gandhi and his life

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

Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth

By Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Why 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…

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The best books on Mahatma Gandhi and his life

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Book cover of Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society, Vol. 3

Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society, Vol. 3

By Ranajit Guha

Why this book?

Although I contributed to this volume, I am recommending it not because of that but because it has a couple of excellent chapters on Gandhi. Best known is Shahid Amin’s, "Gandhi as Mahatma: Gorakhpur District, Eastern UP, 1921-2". In this, he examines Gandhi’s fleeting visit in February 1921 to Gorakhpur District, a largely rural area close to the border with Nepal – showing how this visit was understood by the local peasantry. Many tales circulated, many of which involved the idea that Gandhi had the power of rewarding those who accepted his message and punishing those who did not in…

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The best books on Mahatma Gandhi and his life

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Book cover of Gandhi Before India

Gandhi Before India

By Ramachandra Guha

Why 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.

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The best, most inspirational books about nonviolent leaders

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