Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gandhi and Churchill: Arthur Herman

`Frankly, if you had to choose the greater man between Gandhi and Churchill, 
there's no contest.'

Two men, born five years and four thousand miles apart, meet once when both are unknown. Then they go their separate ways and become two of the most revered figures of the 20th century. From time to time they pass each other as they pass through history, each bent on his own course. otherwise they find very different destinies. One saves his country and secures victory in the greatest war the world has ever known. The other cajoles a mighty nation into giving up its most prestigious possession and unearths the most populous democracy on earth. That is the usual story of Gandhi and Churchill as portrayed by historians, biographers and even filmmakers.

But it is not the whole story.

Historian Arthur Herman has written a well researched book that achieves an extraordinary balance in weighing two mighty protagonists against each other. It is a dual biography to be more precise. The first one I have read in my life. The lives of the two characters have been interwoven beautifully contrasting their qualities and loyalties. They emerge, from time to time, as large sized and leave a profound impression on you.

On one hand there is a modest Mohandas Gandhi born in rural India, who mastered law in London, fighting for independence of India from British Raj. Whereas his contemporary, political arch-enemy, Churchill’s basic point of view in his imperial capacity was that “India” was an abstraction; without British rule, it was a heterogeneous continent made up of peoples who would otherwise be at each other’s throats. Both led their own crusade to change the world, but history stayed on its steady oblivious course, despite their efforts to propel it towards:
In Gandhi's case, to a world without violence or exploitation.
In Churchill's, to a British Empire blossoming into a robust union of english-speaking peoples.

Still, both men had left a permanent mark on their age and a lasting legacy for future generations. They have inspired millions to shape their own destiny.

Herman has definitely penned down a vivid portrait of the greatest story of the 20th century.

The great ship is sinking in the calm sea.
Winston Churchill, 1946

If India wants her blood bath she shall have it.
Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1946


  1. nice review ...very well structured..!!:):)

  2. Thankx for sharing this review .. Added to my To-Read book list!

  3. Nice one.... Thanks for the review....


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