Mahatma Gandhi had four sons. The second of these was Manilal who, through his work, was the son that most closely espoused and persistently furthered the moral and ideological vision of his father.
Born in India, Manilal Gandhi spent his early years with his parents in South Africa, during which time his father was emerging as a mass leader and advocate of Satyagraha. It was at this stage that Gandhi's vision was transformed into a way of life via the establishment of community living - at the famous Phoenix Settlement and Tolstoy Farm.
Manilal's life was shaped within these two communities. Gandhi returned with his family to India in 1914 but within three years Manilal was sent back to South Africa as an emissary to continue Gandhian work in the country where it had originated. For nearly four decades, subsequently, Manilal was involved in editing and publishing the Gujarati-English weekly Indian Opinion from Phoenix, furthering Gandhian ideals and politics, and making the newspaper a significant organ of the alternative press. Through much of his adult life Manilal was an activist editor, imprisoned several times for protesting against unjust laws. His fearlessness was Gandhi's greatest gift to his son.
This biography explores major aspects of the Mahatma and his family that no biographer or historian has hitherto touched upon. In part this is because no one has until now had access to the mass of unpublished papers, the hundreds of letters, the interviews with family and friends, and the now obscure newspapers and related materials on which Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie's biography is based.
This book is, consequently, both intellectual biography and family history, a work of vast scholarship and skillful narration which will enthrall all who are interested in Gandhi, his family life, his sons, and the Gandhian global legacy.
About the Author:
Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie is Associate Professor, Department of History, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town. She is a granddaughter of Manilal Gandhi.
Excerpts from Reviews:
'Gandhi gripped his family as he did his generation. And then let go Manilal Gandhi's life shows how the skin could blanch under that hold and on being "freed" thank it for the toning'.
- Gopal Gandhi
'Gandhi's Prisoner? is an exemplary work of biography that illuminates, in richly nuanced ways, the personal lives and political dilemmas of his two chief protagonists. But it is also a splendid work of social history. No student, admirer or critic of Mahatma Gandhi, and no one interested in the history of modern India or modern South Africa, can afford to ignore this quite outstanding book.'
- Ramachandra Guha
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