Gupte, a columnist for Newsweek International and a former New York Times correspondent, has set himself a formidable task: to assess the legacy of Indira Gandhi (sometimes called Bharat Mata, or Mother India) as the central character in India's modern history, if not the most influential woman of the twentieth century. To some extent he succeeds-his section on Ms. Gandhi's climb to power from the dutiful daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru to prime minister is fast paced and highly readable. Unfortunately his account of her youth relies too much on secondary sources, and his analysis of Prime Minister Gandhi's economic policies in the 1960s and 1970s are one-sided and noncritical. In general, though, the book is a decent introduction to an extraordinary woman and the country she ruled.
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