Book Review: ‘I Am an Ordinary Man’ by Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi's Unveiled Odyssey: From Satyagraha to Freedom

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Book Title: I Am an Ordinary Man: India’s Struggle for Freedom (1914–1948)
Edited By: Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Number of Pages: 456
ISBN: 978-9395853781
Date Published: Oct. 5, 2023
Price: INR 737

I Am an Ordinary Man by Gopalkrishna Gandhi Book Cover

Book Review

I Am an Ordinary Man” is the concluding chapter of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s autobiography, picking up where “Restless as Mercury: My Life as a Young Man” left off. The earlier volume delved into his life from childhood to 1914, covering his return to India after the successful satyagraha movement in South Africa. This sequel continues his journey upon returning to India, chronicling his trials, imprisonments, fasts, and family connections. It offers Gandhi’s narrative, providing insights into his life until his final day.

The book, edited by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and a notable diplomat and writer, serves as the second and concluding volume of the father of the nation’s autobiography. It spans from 1914 to 1948, encapsulating his return to India from South Africa and his leadership in various non-violent resistance campaigns against British colonial rule. These include the Champaran satyagraha, Kheda satyagraha, Non-Cooperation Movement, Salt March, Quit India Movement, and the Partition of India.

To construct a coherent and comprehensive life story, the editor has meticulously curated and arranged Gandhi’s writings from diverse sources, including journals, letters, speeches, and interviews. The book also features an editor’s introduction, a timeline of significant events, a glossary of terms, and a reference list.

Gandhi’s life is viewed as a difficult journey of political, religious, and personal challenges in India. In Book 1, he launches his first satyagraha, addressing the concerns of indigo farmers and mill workers. He campaigns against untouchability and for Hindu-Muslim cooperation. In Book 2, he leads the non-cooperation movement, with ahimsa as a central tenet.

He is facing his first prison sentence for sedition and is leading anti-Simon Commission rallies. He embarks on the Salt March in Book 3 to oppose the salt levy and the Salt Act. He and Ambedkar reached the Poona Pact, establishing reserved seats within a typical electorate. In Book 4, he revives civil disobedience, increases disputes about Pakistan, and dies, profoundly impacting his life. His final year demonstrates his unrelenting dedication.

The book, “I Am an Ordinary Man” is a remarkable account of Gandhi’s journey from being an ordinary man to an extraordinary leader. It reveals his political philosophies, convictions, doubts, and determinations, as well as his struggles, such as his relationship with his family, his experiments with truth and celibacy, his fasting and imprisonment, and his assassination.

The book also shows his vision of a free and united India based on the principles of democracy, socialism, and non-violence. The book also reflects his admiration for other freedom fighters, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Rabindranath Tagore, and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

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The book is a valuable source of information and inspiration for anyone interested in the history and culture of India, as well as in the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. The book is a memoir, a manifesto, a guide, and an example for generations of Indians who aspire for peace and justice.

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