Gandhi by Arnold David Book Review Essay

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Gandhi: A Saint Not Without Stains, A Critical review of David Arnold’s Gandhi.

Arnold, David. Gandhi: Profiles in Power. Harlow, England: Longman, 2001.

Gandhi, by David Arnold is a well-written book covering the different aspects of Gandhi’s life in a rather neutral and at the same time critical manner. The author gives the reader an understanding of the actions of Gandhi, his impact, and how the events of his time and upbringing influenced him. Arnold does this without putting Gandhi on a pedestal or presenting him as flawless. The book is more of a study of Gandhi’s life rather than the typical biography.

Arnold analyses and gives an overview of the most common titles given to Gandhi such as a
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Furthermore, Gandhi spent years in London as a student of law, where he further explored vegetarianism and began his “intellectual awakening, his moral maturation and the opening of his mind to spiritual questions” (34) and concerned himself with politics. Gandhi then went on to South Africa from 1893 to 1914 where many Indians were residing. Arnold recounts his various anti-racism strategies, and reveals how Gandhi acquired his title as the mahatma or “great soul”. South Africa is also where he began his non-violent methods of dealing with racial discrimination laws and Hind Swaraj, which is “Indian self rule”, against the British. He fought for the rights of Indians in Africa, especially against General Smuts’ plans “of stopping their immigration to South Africa”(60) using satyagraha, “truth force or struggle for truth”, campaigns. But these campaigns did not work to the full degree, as there was still “anti-Indian prejudice” (60).

From then on Gandhi spent the rest of his life in India (1915-48) bringing with him principles of satyagraha. Gandhi identified with the Indian villages and peasants, as they were less likely to be “tainted by luxury, self indulgence, and material possessions” (76). There he had influence and appealed to peasants during the political movements of 1917-22, who viewed him as a saint to rescue them from their misery. In 1917, Gandhi saw the economic exploitation and oppression in
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