A new biography of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, written by a non-resident Indian and with a foreword by Mikhail Gorbachev, casts new and intimate light on her life through exclusive interviews with members of the Congress party, political opponents and family friends.
The 268-page book, Sonia Gandhi: An Extraordinary Life, An Indian Destiny is written by NRI Rani Singh, a former senior British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalist. It documents the "greatest transformational journey made by any world leader in the last four decades".
The biography, released in London at the DSC South Asian Literature Festival Monday, will arrive at bookstores in the Indian avatar Oct 18, a statement by the DSC Literature Festival said Tuesday.
It will be published in India by Pan Macmillan.
"Circumstance and tragedy, rather than ambition, paved her path to power," the writer says in the book.
Born into a traditional, middle-class Italian family, Sonia Gandhi met and fell in love with Rajiv Gandhi, son of the Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi and grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, while studying English in Cambridge, the book says.
"Cruelly tested by the assassinations of her mother-in-law and of her husband, Sonia grew into a strong, authoritative but always private figure," Singh says.
According to Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, "the biography was an insightful portrait of an extraordinary woman and a compelling and important story of tragedy, family and a nation of upward trajectory".
In his foreword, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of Soviet Union, said "Sonia Gandhi has served India in many ways - as Rajiv's wife, as the mother of two remarkable children, as an example of dignity and strength, and as a political leader of high caliber. India must be proud of her".
"The book draws back the curtain, allowing the reader to encounter Sonia as the person behind the larger-than-life figure that she is for India's millions," Ashley Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said.
For Tim Marshall, foreign affairs editor Sky News, "the book is a compelling love story woven into the complexities of Indian politics".
"If you want to understand modern India, you need to understand the Gandhis. Singh has made an important and timely contribution," Marshall said.