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Gandhi: A Manga Biography    by Kazuki Ebine order for
by Kazuki Ebine
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Biographies were never a type of book that interested me growing up, so I would only pick one up if I had to read it for school. However, if Penguin's manga biographies were around back then, I know I would have devoured them without having to be prodded. This format is wonderful for both reluctant readers and those who do not find fact as much fun as fiction. Kazuki Ebine's Gandhi moves at such a quick clip that I finished without realizing how much time had passed - plus, I learned a great deal about Gandhi that I never knew before.

Gandhi covers the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi starting from his preteen years when he is introduced to his wife, and his college years studying as a barrister in England, where he first reads the Bhagavad-Gita. Returning home from England, his fear of public speaking sends him rushing out of a courtroom during a trial. Luckily, he is given a mediation job in South Africa where he learns of the prejudices against Indians and starts his campaign for reform through 'uncompromising non-violence and civil disobedience' leading to the first of his many arrests. Upon returning to India, Gandhi continues his Satyagraha Movement against British rule. It includes a day of prayer that shuts down the city and his great salt march, all of which contribute to the Indian people giving him the name Mahatma. His story concludes with his hunger strike to bring the now independent but warring religious factions together, followed shortly by his assassination on January 30th, 1948.

Ebine's portrayal of Gandhi made him seem real, not just the great, peaceful activist one reads about in History classes. And even though most readers will have only seen pictures of Gandhi towards the end of life, Ebine makes him recognizable from a young age forward. I am not sure how close the likenesses of the other prominent Indians are - although Nehru is immediately identified by his collar but the one problem I had with Gandhi was the page towards the end where the US and the UK are meeting to discuss the uprising in India; I would have had no clue it was FDR and Churchill speaking if they were not labeled as such.

Manga biographies are a wonderful concept. I highly recommend Gandhi by Kazuki Ebine to anyone - younger or older - who wished to learn more about Mahatma Gandhi.

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