My curiosity began with a collection of Winston Churchill’s speeches. Quickly, it was obvious to me what I learned of WWII and Churchill in high school was not going to be enough to comprehend this man’s words. Around that time a friend of mine had recently finished Gandhi’s autobiography. I nearly asked to borrow it but I knew I would run into the same problem as with Churchill. When unsure of where to begin, I always turn to bookstores. Soon enough, I found exactly what I needed: Arthur Herman’s Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age.
“It’s more than just interesting; it’s riveting, it’s eye-opening and consuming,” I told a friend who inquired about the book. Thus far, I feel Arthur Herman’s research, perception, acknowledgments and appreciation of humanity has made him my best, and favorite, history teacher.
I learned about Kipling, Yeats, satyagraha, WWI & WWII, The Salt March, a brief overview about the English political system, the outright hypocrisy of Gandhi’s strive equality, South Africa, the Raj, the meaning of “The sun never sets on the British Empire” and much more than I could ever relate to you in this measly little review. But the meat and potatoes of the book are a comparison and contrast of Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill.
What I appreciated most about Arthur Herman’s telling of their story, is his dedication to portraying a realistic view of both men. These two men are revered, honored and in some cases are looked upon as an almost God-like being. I feel lucky to have stumbled across an author who is willing to accept people “as they are.” Herman takes us on a journey from birth to death of both men and toggles between the two men as events occur. The first reaction people tend to have about the concept of this book, “How can these two be anything alike?! I thought they were completely different.” On the surface, neither of these two individuals seems to have much in common. Both were notorious for mistrusting and disliking the other. I am reminded of something my mother taught me from a young age: What you do not like about others is what you do not like about yourself. Churchill and Gandhi have more similar strands that would appear. For that I encourage you to read and discover it yourself.
It is an extraordinary task to take on and a job well done. Herman’s work left a massive impression on me. I finally have a glimmer of understanding the web of the world I have grown up in. What makes Herman my favorite history teacher is what makes anyone a great teacher: the ability to tell a story. He is a master. I will say it again. He is a master and I am confident in saying anyone would enjoy reading this book.
If I write anymore I will only speak in gushing nonsense. I loved the book to say the least. It made a huge impression on my life and I will never stop recommending it.