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Beyond A Boundary

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  379 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In C. L. R. James's classic Beyond a Boundary, the sport is cricket and the scene is the colonial West Indies. Always eloquent and provocative, James--the "black Plato," (as coined by the London Times)--shows us how, in the rituals of performance and conflict on the field, we are watching not just prowess but politics and psychology at play. Part memoir of a boyhood in a b ...more
Paperback, 291 pages
Published September 27th 1993 by Duke University Press Books (first published January 15th 1980)
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Umesh Kesavan
"What do men live by?" and "What is art?" are my favorite chapters from this classic book which poses the question "What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?".Yet,one has to accept that only those who know cricket can read this book.
What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?

Widely acknowledged as the greatest book on cricket ever written, 'Beyond the Boundary' is CLR James' cogent argument that cricket goes beyond the boundary; and plays a great role in not just shaping men, but also a national identity. It is a book on cricket, but more than that. Part memoir, part history, part social text.

Above all, it is a book about a man deeply in love with a game of cricket.

If you love the game in its purest, simplest form,
Oliver Bateman
What can one learn from this book, when one knows nothing of cricket? In my case, a hell of a lot. James presumes that the reader knows a lot about cricket; various legends such as Bradman, Grace, Worrell, Headley, et al. are referred to by surname only. But such lacunae can be filled swiftly by means of Wikipedia.

What really matters here are the larger claims James makes regarding the cultural significance of Trinidad's most popular sport. Every few pages, I'd stumble upon a paragraph that mad
So this book was difficult for me not because it wasn't beautifully written or analytical (it was both) but because I don't understand the sport of cricket. That was part of why I chose to read this book - I wanted to see how a sport I didn't know anything about, played in countries I know very little about - played out in terms of race, politics, and class. James's writing style is lyrical perfection - it is flawless without being pedantic, pretentious, or precious. He writes about a sport that ...more
Josh C.
Nov 10, 2014 Josh C. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Josh by: @davidsonangmoh
Shelves: cricket, britain
"What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?"


And what can he learn of cricket who does not cricket know? An awful lot with this book in hand, actually. It's an outstanding read on so many levels, from conveying the institutional culture of cricket to illustrating its history and conflicts with the cultures outside it ("beyond [the] boundary") to general colonialism and post-colonialism to even side observations of America and its contrasting sport culture that James observed during his
I enjoyed this immensely. I know just enough about cricket that it made some kind of sporting sense -- though I confess that there's was an entire chapter on Bradman and the body-line where I really had no idea what the hell James was talking about. Mostly though, James's enthusiasm carried me along the crest of a lyrical use of words in unfamiliar contexts and meanings, descriptions of overs and strokes and other barely understood marks of poetry and genius. Growing up with three brothers made ...more
Sarah Sammis
I'm too far removed from the author to fully appreciate this book. This memoir is written with the assumption that the reader is familiar with his articles on cricket, is as avid fan of the game of cricket and an avid reader. Well, I have the third qualification for this book except that I haven't read his favorite book: Vanity Fair. To someone who follows cricket will come away with much more from reading this book.
For a great philosopher and keen memoirist, it is amazing how much style CLR James has. Reading this book, almost more than his wonderful inquiry into West Indies cricket and what it meant for race, class and masculinity, I was left admiring his writing, a fine balance between High Victorian and mid-20th century journalism, and knowing that I was in the presence of a master.
Matthew Gaughan
Not just the greatest book about sport ever written, but also one of the best about Marxism, postcolonialism, the Carribean, the north of England, and cultural history. It's a masterpiece.
Richard Donne
Brilliant - what a writer! Each chapter moves from ideas on cricket to post-colonialism and leftist thought with an incredible clarity of expression and thought.

Beyond a boundary by CLR James. Mind blowing.
I just came across in the Amazon site after an
extensive search for a cricket book after throughly
enjoying the "Chinaman. The legend of Pradeep
Mathews." At an affordable price with the tag of
"Best cricket book ever" it was an easy choice for
me. And this gem, is a must read. The journey of
the author himself which is closely in fact mostly
related to the game. With the touch of upheaval of
West Indian independence movement and of
course racial discriminatio
This is known as the best book on cricket ever written. Understandable, as James along with his passion and close association with the sport of cricket is also a stylist. His writing is fantastic.

Beyond a boundary is a part memoir. His passion for the game of cricket and English literature can easily be seen in this work. Along with the articles on the cricketers of the late 19th and the early 20th century, I loved the chapter on the artistic analysis of cricket. The section on WG Grace throws s
There are many claims made for this book, all advanced by supporters and admirers over the years. The book, modestly, makes no claims, save that of clarifying some of the issues relating to Learie Constantine’s stay in Lancashire during the Thirties.

Apart from fifteen years spent in the USA, cricket suffused C.L.R. James’ life. As a boy, he could see the local cricket ground from a window in the family house, and spent many hours watching the local team play. An intelligent child, he won one of
Dave Wilson
This was my contribution to our feature on CricketWeb, reviewing the book 50 years after its publication:-

'I can't remember exactly when I first read the book, but I do recall I was going through a bit of an intellectual phase, and it appealed to me on more than one level, as it is part-philosophical, part-autobiographical and part-cricket.

Chapter headings such as "What Do Men Live By" and "What is Art?" were enough to satisfy my more cerebral longings, however in the final analysis it is James'
Jamyang Phuntsok
This book is great because its scope goes beyond cricket. Or you could say it takes cricket, delves into its origin and development and places it superbly in its socio-cultural context. And as cricket here is primarily the cricket in West Indies in the 19th and 20th century, it is impossible to not to tackle the related issues of colonialism, racialism and class. If this may bother a purely cricketing fan, let me assure you that James' won't let him or her down. Whether it is his early memoirs, ...more
Santosh Kumar
any tribute for this book would be inadequate too say the least. Written by one of the great figures of twentieth century , the book is an account of his life and his long association wid the game. it is this book where he argues the case for cricket as an art, analyses the social history of england while unravelling the evolution of the game through its first superstarW.G grace , traces the cultural roots of westindian cricket and asserts that what happens outside the boundary affects the game ...more
I have no knowledge of cricket but greatly enjoyed this book. So I am either unable to really understand the author's ideas and my judgment here is foolish or this book is brimming with insight and intellect. I prefer the second. Expect much technical description of play - "The field was well placed, mid-off fairly straight, short extra-cover to pick up the single, deep extra-cover, deep point for accidents, the leg-side well covered", for example - but if you're not the type to dwell on such sp ...more
Duke Press
"If you want to look deeper into cricket’s intriguing history, check out Beyond a Boundary by C.L.R. James. First published in 1963, this modern cricket classic is both a tribute to the game that James grew up playing in his native Trinidad and a memoir of his years in England as a radical writer leading the crusade for West Indian independence."--Utne Reader

“A book of remarkable richness and force, which vastly expands our understanding of sports as an element of popular culture in the Western
Daniel Kushner
As much about cricket as Moneyball is about baseball. James is a part-time philosopher, part-time political activist, full-time cricket fan who argues that the amount of time spent by West Indians watching cricket and caring about cricket makes it useful to understanding them and their desires. He watches racism and decolonialization in the islands where he grew up through the lens of cricket. If you're like and don't know anything about cricket, then it will feel awkward. It remains an interest ...more
Roger Mckenzie
Masterful by a master exponent of the English language. A true cricket fan who blends his writing on his love of the game with his political activism.
I'm clearly not in a position to question James. But I was hoping this book would help me get into cricket, and in honesty I really needed to know a ton more about cricket in order to appreciate the book.

The early stark prose describing James' family was fantastic, and there's some great vignettes of West Indian life both in Trinidad and in England. England 50 years ago seems like just such a different place. There's a decent chunk of fascinating stuff in the book.

But it's mostly about cricket,
Gautam Sengupta
I think this book will be good
Hard to describe. Part memoir, part political polemic, part cricket commentary. Has some breathtaking passages about the sport.

This book is often held up as one of the best books about sports ever written, which rather misses the point. It's about cricket, but it's also about so much more. Crucial for anyone interested in West Indian independence movements.
Aroonav Das
The one and only.
To quote Suresh Menon, "If you read only one cricket book in your life, which one should it be? A biography, a tour book, an autobiography, a diary, a coaching manual, fiction, history, a collection of essays, or Beyond A Boundary, which is all (well, most) of the above?"
Edoardo Albert
This book is regularly listed as the best book on cricket ever written. It is. Pretty well everything about it is thought provoking, but the section on the invention of modern sport in Victorian England and the impact of WG Grace is quite extraordinary.
David Conners
Fascinating from the perspective of getting somewhat of an insight into West Indian culture, but the author is a little too full of himself (possibly justifiably, but hard to judge from one book) for my liking.
A wonderful insight into politics, race, society, history of the West Indies. Of course, also a great read for any old fashioned cricket fan - the section on WG Grace is outstanding.

George Roper
Excellent book. I had very high expectations and these were exceeded. Indeed "what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?"

A good way to read about the history of cricket. It felt like I was reading a journal, different from the usual history accounts.
A dense and engaging book. A must for anyone wanting to examine the connection between society and sports. Merits rereading.
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C. L. R. James (1901–1989), a Trinidadian historian, political activist, and writer, is the author of The Black Jacobins, an influential study of the Haitian Revolution and the classic book on sport and culture, Beyond a Boundary. His play Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History was recently discovered in the archives and published Duke University Press.
More about C.L.R. James...
The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution Minty Alley Mariners, Renegades and Castaways A History of Pan-African Revolt American Civilization

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