"PATEL A LIFE" Tells, for the first time, the full story of the life of Vallabhbhai, the ploughboy who helped liberate India and then, in 1947-9, welded her into one nation. Built from correspondence and diaries, including the Sardar's letter and the remarkable diary kept by his daughter Manibhen, PATEL is as authentic, intimate and complete an account as can be assembled. "That there is today an India to think and talk about," President Rajendra Prasad wrote in May 1959, "is very largely due to Sardar Patel's statesmanship and firm administration." "Yet," added Prasad, "we are apt to ignore him." If ignored, Sardar Patel is also missed. Troubled times engender a longing for the grip on India's affairs that Patel had. How he acquired that grip is part of PATEL'S story. A quarter-century after the selection of India's first Premier, C. Rajagopalachari recalled the event and wrote: "Undoubtedly it would have been better if Nehru had been asked to be Foreign Minister and Patel made the Prime Minister."