GANDHI

THE TRUE MAN BEHIND MODERN INDIA

A concise, critical look at the Indian leader, emphasizing his striving for spiritual perfection.

Unlike Joseph Lelyveld’s recent exhaustive study of Gandhi and the evolution of his ideas, Great Soul (2011), this work by British historian Adams (Hideous Absinthe, 2003, etc.) goes right to the essential thought of the Mahatma, despite his confounding, albeit engaging inconsistencies. The author sticks to primary sources, such as accounts by Gandhi's secretaries, while remaining somewhat leery of Gandhi’s own autobiography, because of his elusive relationship to truth (“I have grown from truth to truth”). In discrete, tidy chapters, Adams embarks on the main tenets of Gandhi’s life: his pampered upbringing by a very devout Hindu mother; his marriage at age 13 to Kasturbai, also his age, which would arouse his later disgust for Hindu marriage rituals; his lifelong striving for chastity and the shaping of his brahmacharya vow; his obsession with his diet, a system of trial-and-error that would often leave him weak and ill; his early law education in England, a great sacrifice for his family, though later he would essentially sever ties to his relatives, refuse to educate his sons and support his family financially; his use of fasting as a political tool; and his gradual political engagement, from his time as a young barrister in South Africa to his return to India as a national leader for the rights of the indentured servants, miners, poor and untouchables. He sought emancipation by doing—living in self-sufficient simplicity within his ashrams, where he imposed the strictest discipline on himself and others, immersing himself in sacred texts of all religions. The concluding chapter on Gandhi’s “Legacy” considers his assassin’s criticism of Gandhi’s sense of his own infallibility, as well as the terrible repercussions from the partition of Pakistan and Gandhi’s invaluable catalyst to global movements of human rights. A tight synthesis and good introduction to Gandhi’s life and work.

 

Pub Date: July 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60598-171-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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