A movie tie-in--with the new Attenborough film, of course--that's of primary interest as such. Gold, a longtime New York Times staffer, has given a simplified, low-key account of Gandhi's life, shorn of both mythical and titillating elements. By way of interpretation, he notes Gandhi's early asceticism, his lifelong ""obsessions with truth, diet and sex,"" and his penchant for experimentation in all three areas. Mostly thereafter we get the historic civil disobedience campaigns, the conferences, fasts, and imprisonments; explanation of Gandhian precepts (brahmacharya, ahimsa, satyagraha) and practices (the ashram, the making of khadi); and generous quotation. The bibliography is quite good--though apparently a working bibliography (the Times morgue files are included), nonetheless a brief list of widely available, diverse, and reputable works. But filmmaker Attenborough, in his afterword, makes the point that gives the book, with its 150 black-and-white photographs, a special attraction in relation to the film: Gandhi was much photographed, and from those pictures Attenborough composed the historic scenes, and the actors ""learned their roles."" Movie stills appear, for comparison purposes, in Attenborough's section. For the rest, readers who see the film can judge its authenticity for themselves. The history is cursory (and crudely anti-British), there is little sense of Gandhi's daily life with his disciples; but the middle-range, puplic view is decently representative--and vividly present in the photographs.