NEHRU: A Voice for Mankind by Bani Shorter

NEHRU: A Voice for Mankind

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This lightweight study was written with earnest admiration in the vapid style of inferior juveniles. The ""reconstruction of interior and external dialogue"" which punctuates the chronicle of Nehru's boyhood is less obtrusive than the persistent ""airplanes easily span great distances"" tone. The author (who discussed the book's plan with Nehru himself) draws on his autobiography but offers little psychological insight, while Nehru's sister Krishna Hutheesing (We Nehrus, 1967) has drawn a richer portrait of associates and milieux. As a political biography the book is also lame: though il concentrates on Nehru's relations with Gandhi, their points of disagreement remain nebulous, and the author never discusses the left-wing influences on Nehru which began with Cambridge socialism. The historical background outline of the independence movement is sometimes dull (mentioning events like the 1928 debate over dominion status without explaining what was at stake) and often naive (Shorter gives the British the benefit of every doubt, supposing, e.g., that they played the benign arbitrator between Moslems and Hindus). When it reaches the post-independence period, the book altogether degenerates into eulogistic, anecdotal scraps: missions to ""trouble spots,"" speeches, border disputes. In sum, the portrait of a lithe-figured, ineffably dedicated Nehru does scant justice to his real virtues, or his faults, his political contemporaries or his historical context.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1970
Publisher: John Day