Synopses & Reviews
In 1888, at the age of eighteen, Mohandas Gandhi sets out from his modest home in India. Shy, timid, and soft-spoken, he embarks on what he believes will be a new life abroad. Twenty-seven years later, at the age of forty-five, he returnsand#151;this time fearless, impassioned, and ready to lead his country to freedom.
What transformed him?and#160;
M. K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law is the first biography of the Mahatmaand#8217;s early years as a lawyer. It follows Gandhi as he embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery: from his education in Britain, through the failure of his first law practice in India, to his eventual migration to South Africa. Though he found initial success representing wealthy Indian merchants, events on the ground would come to change him. Relentless attacks by the white colonial establishment on Indian civil rights prompted Gandhi to give up his lucrative business in favor of representing the oppressed in court. Gandhi had originally hoped that the South African legal system could be relied upon for justice. But when the courts failed to respond, he had no choice but to shift tactics, developing what would ultimately become his lasting legacyand#151;the philosophy and practice of nonviolent civil disobedience.
As he took on the most powerful governmental, economic, and political forces of his day, Gandhi transformed himself from a modest civil rights lawyer into a tireless freedom fighter. Relying on never-before-seen archival materials, this book provides the reader with a front-row seat to the dramatic events that would alter Gandhiand#151;and historyand#151;forever.
and#8220;A very powerful and original contribution to Gandhian studies.and#8221;
and#8220;DiSalvo, through painstaking work in the legal archives of South Africa and in the archives of the Sabarmati Ashram, has written the first account of Gandhiand#8217;s life in law. . . . The Man Before the Mahatma is without doubt among the finest in a long biographical tradition.and#8221;
and#8220;South Africa was . . . a profoundly racist society. . . . This inescapable reality forced on Gandhi a response. Here Charles DiSalvo's book, examining Gandhi's life as a lawyer, is particularly worthwhile.and#8221;
and#8220;An excellent study of Gandhiand#8217;s 20 years as a young attorney in South Africa.and#8221;
and#8220;This well-written book is the first scholarly work to connect Gandhiand#8217;s nonviolent civil disobedience to the failure of the courts in racialized South Africa.and#8221;
andldquo;Among the more arresting works on this phase of Gandhiandrsquo;s life . . . an astonishingly detailed and revealing study of Gandhiandrsquo;s law practice.andrdquo;
At the age of eighteen, a shy and timid Mohandas Gandhi leaves his Gujarati home for a life on his own. At forty-five, a confident and fearless Gandhi arrives back in India ready to boldly lead his country to freedom.
What transforms him?
MK Gandhi, Attorney at Law, the first biography of Gandhis life in the law, follows Gandhi as he goes on a journey of self-discovery during his law studies in Britain, fails miserably at his law practice in India, and then becomes enormously successful representing wealthy Indian merchants in South Africa. Relentless attacks on Indian rights by the white colonial authorities there cause Gandhi to give up his lucrative representation of private clients for public work the representation of the besieged Indian community in South Africa.
As he takes on the most powerful governmental, economic, and political forces of his day, he learns two things. He comes to know that unifying his professional work with his political and moral principles not only provides him with satisfaction, it also creates in him a strong, powerful voice. Using the courtrooms of South Africa as his laboratory for resistance, Gandhi learns something else so important that it will eventually have a lasting, global impact: a determined people can bring repressive governments to heel by the principled use of civil disobedience.
Using materials hidden away in archival vaults and brought to light for the first time, MK Gandhi, Attorney at Law puts the reader inside dramatic experiences that changed Gandhis life forever and have never been written about until now.
"DiSalvo's work is the most important addition to Gandhi literature for quite some time. He is authoritative and captivating on the subject, providing original research that will be indispensable to Gandhi scholars, the legal community, and a more general audience interested in this fascinating history." and#150; Thomas Weber, Politics and International Relations Program, La Trobe University, Melbourne
"M.K. Gandhi is a marvelous account of Gandhi's legal practice with a particularly exciting and accurate interpretation of his political philosophy in light of his legal experience. This work fills an important gap in current Gandhi scholarship." and#150;Anthony Parel, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary
"Gandhi was reticent about and dismissive of his life as a lawyer. His Autobiography paints a picture of a young, shy, hesitant man unable to articulate the cases of his clients. Charles DiSalvo's erudite account, the first of its kind, of Gandhi's life in law will most certainly change that picture and enable us to understand Gandhi's life in South Africa in a more complete way and to appreciate how his understanding of both structural and procedural aspects of law and jurisprudence contributed to his dealings with the Empire."and#151;Tridip Suhrud, Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad
About the Author
Charles R. DiSalvo is the Woodrow A. Potesta Professor of Law at West Virginia University where he teaches one of the few law school courses on civil disobedience in the United States. He has also represented civil disobedients in trial and appellate courts, written widely on civil disobedience, and lectured on the subject in the United States and abroad. He is the co-founder of the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest.
Table of Contents
1. Dispatched to London
2. The Barrister Who Couldnand#8217;t Speak
3. An Abundant and Regular Supply of Labour
4. Dada Abdullaand#8217;s White Elephant
5. Not a White Barrister
6. Formation Lessons
7. Wallerand#8217;s Question
8. A Public Man
9. To Maritzburg
10. Moth and Flame
12. Transition and the Transvaal
13. No Bed of Roses
15. Courthouse to Jailhouse
17. Courtroom as Laboratory
18. Closing Arguments
Mohandas K. Gandhi Chronology