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Pick of the paperbacks; Gandhi -- A Memoir, by William L. Shirer. New York: Simon & Schuster. $6.95.

Shirer's account of his six-month relationship with the enigmatic religious and political leader is more than first-rate journalism. It is a fascinating and sensitively drawn portrait of one of history's most remarkable men.

Shirer's description of the man he grew to revere is candid. We are not spared Gandhi's eccentricities or contradictions. We learn that he was a strict vegetarian and would handweave 200 yards of yarn daily, even if it reduced his already seant sleep to two hours.

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This retrospective, written from a distance of half a century, loses no immediacy or freshness. Shirer effectively conveys the unflagging spiritual strength that enabled Gandhi to maintain a policy of nonviolence in the face of the harsh repression of the British colonial rulers.

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