Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age
In this fascinating and meticulously researched book, bestselling historian Arthur Herman sheds new light on two of the most universally recognizable icons of the twentieth century, and reveals how their forty-year rivalry sealed the fate of India and the British Empire.
They were born worlds apart: Winston Churchill to Britain’s most glamorous aristocratic family, Mohandas Gandhi to a pious middle-class household in a provincial town in India. Yet Arthur Herman reveals how their lives and careers became intertwined as the twentieth century unfolded. Both men would go on to lead their nations through harrowing trials and two world wars—and become locked in a fierce contest of wills that would decide the fates of countries, continents, and ultimately an empire. Here is a sweeping epic with a fascinating supporting cast, and a brilliant narrative parable of two men whose great successes were always haunted by personal failure—and whose final moments of triumph were overshadowed by the loss of what they held most dear.
their coalition leaders for joining in the “persecution” of General Dyer. The price they demanded was Secretary Montagu’s resignation, which came in March 1922. A desperate Lloyd George called for expanding the budget for the Indian Civil Service, the “steel framework,” as he termed it, that held India together. One observer called the speech “Kiplingesque” in its imperial overtones, yet it could not save his government.3 In October the Tories and Andrew Bonar Law walked out, forcing a general
satyagraha. Most ironic of all, the government’s salt monopoly and salt tax were left intact (although the government did concede that people in coastal areas could gather their own for personal use). Gandhians around the country were stunned. They had fought hard, gone to jail, and risked everything for one goal: independence. But the agreement said nothing about independence, let alone Purana Swaraj. Far from feeling triumphant, they felt, in Jawaharlal Nehru’s words, “a great emptiness as of
had become an elaborate game of constitutional musical chairs. No group was willing to give up its claim to reserved seats or votes, not even in exchange for more seats and votes in the future, for fear that someone else might steal their original allotment. Gandhi himself would consent to separate electorates for only two groups, Muslims and Sikhs. But other minorities insisted on separate representation as well, while Gandhi horrified Hindu delegates by suggesting they should give Muslims “a
the Mahatma, and he was deeply curious about him. On June 24 they spoke after lunch for nearly two hours.64 Wavell found him pleasant and “friendly for the time being” but also “rather vague and discursive.” Wavell wanted the delegates at Simla “to pull together for the sake of India and not in a party spirit,” and Gandhi agreed.65 “Mr. Gandhi then made a long, torturous, and prolix statement” that lasted more than an hour, Wavell remembered. It covered the history of the Indian National
the sacrifice of the most altruistic, i.e. those who nurture and offer their help to others. Drummond’s celebration of altruism was a powerful riposte to Churchill’s mentor Winwood Reade and reveals once again the contrast between the Gandhi and Churchill worldviews. 14. Editorial of October 28, 1905, in Indian Opinion. Gandhi, Collected Works, 4:473. 15. Payne, Gandhi, 148. 16. Ibid., 149. 17. See Curzon, Viceroy’s India. 18. Moon, British Conquest, 920–91. 19. Ibid., 936. 20. Ironically,