Ole Birk Laursen describes the biography as a mix of an academic book and a popular history novel. It takes readers on a journey through the tumultuous political landscape of India during the fight for freedom and a time period marked by significant global events, including World War I, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Nazi power, the emergence of fascism, and Indian independence.
"I aimed to understand these major political developments through the lens of Acharya's life", says Ole Birk Laursen.
M.P.T. Acharya was involved in nationalism from an early age and turned politically active around 1906 and stayed so until his death in the mid-1950s. Today he is regarded India’s most well-known anti-colonial anarchist of the early 20th century.
A significant part of Acharya's life was spent in exile, first in London, where he was involved with India House; an establishment that attracted attention of British authorities as it evolved into a hub for Indian nationalist radicalization.
“Arriving in London, M.P.T. Acharya was already radical. But he became more so during his stay at India House. He wanted to be a militant revolutionist and took an active part in India’s freedom struggle in exile”, Laursen explains.
Ole Birk Laursen describes the biography format as an exciting way to tell a story. However, the research and writing process came with several challenges.
“The most difficult aspect of the writing process has been to tell a story that spans over such a long period of time and still hold it all together”, he says.
Another difficult aspect of the process has been to read and navigate archive material in several different languages, like German, French, and Russian. Also, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine complicated requests for archive material from Russia.
As M.P.T. Acharya visited Sweden during the end of the World War I, there are also traces of him in Swedish archives. In collaboration with his comrade Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Acharya published articles in Swedish newspapers Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, and Aftonbladet and engaged with several political figures of the time, including Ellen Key, Hjalmar Branting, and Carl Lindhagen.