13 June, 2021

One Man Is A University

As this book shows, a heroic life is not without occasional flaws and intense loneliness

N. Thiagarajan
One Man Is A University
I have read many books on Nehru but none has left such a deep impression on me as Walter Crocker’s biography. It should never have been out of print but was for some time and has just been rescued with a foreword by Ramachandra Guha which it is difficult for any reviewer to match up to.

The strength of Walter Crocker’s comparatively brief biography is his sympathy for Nehru. He was Australian high commissioner in Delhi for two periods (between 1952-55 and 1958-1962) and became fascinated by Nehru. He writes: "Mostly I admired him; occasionally he was disappointing; always he was fascinating." As those words indicate, Crocker was deeply sympathetic but he was not a blind admirer of his subject. When he criticised Nehru, as he did for instance over Goa and China, he held no punches. In the introduction, Guha points out that Crocker’s criticisms were so trenchant that they aroused considerable but by no means universal anger in India. At times, Crocker did seem to justify the reviewer in the Hindustan Times who dismissed his book...

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