June 5, 2013

A New Biography of Gandhi

Charles Richard DiSalvo, West Virginia University College of Law, is publishing M. K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law: The Man Before the Mahatma with the University of California Press (Fall 2013). Here is the abstract.
Students of Gandhi have long recognized that there exists a significant gap in the Gandhi scholarship. None of Gandhi’s many biographers has focused on Gandhi’s extensive practice of law. Similarly, scholars have not examined Gandhi’s experience in the law as a critical factor contributing to the development of his philosophy and practice of nonviolence. This book takes up those tasks. Using previously unexamined archival materials, it brings to light for the first time Gandhi’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to use the courts to defend Indian rights. It argues that Gandhi’s subsequent disillusionment with litigation as a tool for justice and social change led him to experiment with a new approach — nonviolent civil disobedience.
The book does not conclude that Gandhi abandoned his faith in the rule of law. Rather, it concludes that he discovered within the law the grand dynamic that converts disobedience to change — change even in the law itself.
As it makes this argument, the book does not ignore the person of Gandhi. It demonstrates that it was the practice of law that allowed Gandhi to transform himself from a shy and awkward youth into the competent and confident public person who would later lead India to freedom.
The appendix for the book is available at the following URL: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2268724.
The complete endnotes for the book are available at the following URL: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2268712.
The full text is not available from SSRN.

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