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Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhiby Katherine Frank
Synopses & Reviews
On the morning of October 31, 1984, as she walked through her garden, smiling, with hands raised and palms pressed together in the traditional Indian namaste greeting, Indira Nehru Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards. She died as she had lived, surrounded by men, yet isolated. It was a violent end to a life of epic drama.
Here is the first popular biography of one of the world's most influential leaders, India's third prime minister. Brought up during an era that saw the rise of Indian nationalism, Indira was raised to be what her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, called "a child of revolution" - destined to play a political role in the creation and governing of an independent India. Despite her early reluctance to embrace this role, Indira eventually presided over a huge, complex, religiously riven, and male-dominated country. She was born to a wealthy, westernized family, but she had a gift for connecting with the poor of the countryside and the urban slums, the illiterate, the dispossessed - so much so that "Indira is India" became a familiar slogan. Throughout childhood, love, marriage, imprisonment, motherhood, and a sequence of personal and family tragedies, her personal hopes and desires were continually subsumed by the historical and political imperatives of her country.
In this beautifully written book, the acclaimed biographer Katherine Frank draws on unpublished sources and more than a hundred interviews to create a rich, balanced portrait. INDIRA captures in full color the personal and political fate of the leader of the world's largest democracy - the woman who played a dominant role in the history of the twentieth century and who, when it ended, was voted Woman of the Millennium by the BBC.
"Frank, a professional biographer who has written elsewhere of Emily Bronte and Mary Kingsley, has turned her attentions to the enigmatic former leader of the world's largest democracy. Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984 by Sikh bodyguards angered at her decision to storm the sacred Golden Temple, was a fascinating but (apparently) tortured figure who led India during a tumultuous period, one made more tumultuous perhaps because of decisions she herself made. The author's research was extensive at the personal level. Countless interviews were conducted in an effort to get to the Indira that the world outside India seldom if ever got to know. Those who wish to read a biography better grounded in Indian history, however, will have to look elsewhere. Also, though she explores the contradictions of her subject's life and probes the flaws she concedes were part of this personality,
Frank is remarkably reluctant to criticize the role of Indira during the Emergency or her attempts to manipulate internal opponents. Even more surprising is her disinclination to criticize her son Sanjay's abuses of power. This is a book that provides much entertainment but will leave many readers frustrated." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"Without delving too deeply in the shadowy realm of psychobiography, Katherine Frank identifies formative experiences and childhood wounds that help explain the paranoia and near-megalomania that would characterize Gandhi at crucial junctures in her career." Paul Festa, Salon.com (read the entire Salon review)
"Frank, a meticulous biographer dedicated to chronicling the lives of uniquely fascinating women, including A Passage to Egypt: The Life of Lucie Duff Gordon (1994), provides a complex portrait of one of the most politically and socially powerful women in the twentieth century....Both scholars and general readers will relish this robust, full-bodied representation of one of the seminal figures in the history of contemporary India." Margaret Flanagan, Booklist
"The most striking aspects of Frank's readable, well-wrought biography are Gandhi's sad childhood and her reluctance to enter politics....Not a political biography, Frank's book (via letters and conversations with close confidants) comes closest to showing the human Indira who joined politics because she felt duty-bound to uphold her father's secular, inclusive vision of her homeland." Publishers Weekly
Book News Annotation:
Veteran women's biographer Frank recounts the life of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, nee Nehru, (1917-84) beginning with her descent from a Kashmiri family to her assassination and the legacy she left in the country and the world.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
KATHERINE FRANK's most recent biography, A Passage to Egypt: The Life of Lucie Duff Gordon, earned a rave front-page review in the New York Times Book Review, which called it "a masterpiece." Frank is also the author of A Voyager Out, a life of Mary Kingsley, and A Chainless Soul, a life of Emily Bront�, which was hailed as "a near perfect work" (New York Daily News). Her work on Indira involved six years of extensive travel and research.
Table of Contents
CONTENTS list of illustrations ix glossary xiii acknowledgements xv Part One Indira Nehru 1 Descent from Kashmir 3 2 Hua 13 3 Breathing with Her Heels 34 4 Indu-Boy 50 5 Enter Feroze 72 6 In the Black Forest 100 7 A Veteran at Parting 115 8 The Magic Mountain 146 Part Two Indira Gandhi 9 Not a Normal, Banal, Boring Life 167 10 Things Fall Apart 193 11 Metamorphosis 226 12 Towards a Hat Trick 260 Part Three Prime Minister Gandhi 13 I am the Issue 289 14 Seeing Red 325 15 No Further Growing 348 16 Drastic, Emergent Action 371 17 The Rising Son 390 18 Witch-Hunt 415 19 Fault Lines 440 20 Another Amritsar 465 21 31 October 1984 484 22 After Indira 495 epilogue 503 notes 505 select bibliography 537 index 545
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