Gandhi Was a Big Jerk, Perv Biography seeks to end hagiography of the leader of Indian independence By Mark Russell, Newser Staff Posted Mar 27, 2011 8:48 AM CDT 108 comments Comments Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi comes under fire in a new biography, Great Soul. (AP Photo/File) (Newser) – Mohandas Gandhi may have been a great man, leading India to independence, but he was also a great jerk, leading a life of racism, self-promotion, sexual weirdness, and cruelty—or so says the new biography Great Soul, by former New York Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld. Gandhi's early biographers dubbed him a "moral demi-god," but Lelyveld's book shows a much more human image. "Gandhi was therefore the archetypal 20th-century progressive intellectual," writes Andrew Roberts in his review in the Wall Street Journal, "professing his love for mankind as a concept while actually despising people as individuals." Among the key points in Great Soul: India's independence could have been achieved much earlier if Gandhi had not kept abandoning his civil disobedience campaigns at critical points. Gandhi expressed much racism throughout his life, against blacks in South Africa, Muslims, and low-caste "untouchables" in India. Comparing white Afrikaaners and Indians, he said, "We believe as much in the purity of races as we think they do." In his later years, Gandhi liked to sleep naked with a 17-year-old great-niece and other girls. But early in his life, Gandhi loved men, specifically German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder Hermann Kallenbach, for whom he left his wife in 1908.