Nehru: A Political Life by Judith M Brown - review by Philip Ziegler

Philip Ziegler

The Heart Of A Nation

Nehru: A Political Life


Yale University Press 407pp £25 order from our bookshop

No TWENTIETH-CENTURY man influenced the development of a great democracy more than Jawaharlal Nehru. Stalin, Hitler, Mao: all in their time changed the destinies of their countries; however, they sought not to work with their people but to impose their vision regardless of the people's will. Nehru had authoritative tendencies - he recognised and even feared them - but he knew that he would only succeed in the end if he took the Indians along with him. Viewing his country today, he would probably feel that his vision had foundered, yet the fact that against all the odds India has survived united, more or less democratic and economically afloat, is a tribute to his role in its creation. He was one of the titans of the twentieth century.

There have been many books about him, but since Sarvepalli Gopal's majestic if somewhat partial official biography not one as scholarly or Nehru: well considered as this by Judith Brown. She subtitles her book 'A Political Life' but rightly points out that 'the historian who seeks to understand the public

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