Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Beyond A Boundary” as Want to Read:
Beyond A Boundary
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Beyond A Boundary

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  466 Ratings  ·  49 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Beyond A Boundary, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Beyond A Boundary

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,107)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oliver Bateman
Jul 11, 2014 Oliver Bateman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Jun 12, 2014 Vedant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
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.
Dec 28, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gerald Sinstadt
Aug 12, 2015 Gerald Sinstadt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has long been required reading - and not just for cricket lovers. It is much more than a book about cricket, though that is its dominant theme.

The problems of growing up in the Caribbean, journalism, Greek mytholofy, sculpture, politics all claim attention. Karl Marx is present but is overshadowed by W G Grace and Don Bradman. Learie Constantine and George Headley are recurring figures as the author seeks to embrace both art ad philosophy.

The in the long, key 16th chapter, the author seeks
Josh C.
Nov 10, 2014 Josh C. rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 19, 2015 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2012 Sarah Sammis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released, pc, read-in-2005
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.
Mar 10, 2011 Supriya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 30, 2011 Richard Donne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Dec 30, 2013 Arjun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-love
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
Ken Hall
Oct 09, 2015 Ken Hall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What do they know of cricket that only cricket know. So asks CLR James. And indeed while Cricket is the main subject of this book this is also part auto biography and a social political and cultural history of the Caribbean. A cricket classic which I finally got round to reading a fascinating and rewarding book by the man who led the campaign to have a black man installed as captain of the West Indies. Until 1961 the captain was always a white man regardless of whether he was worth a place in th ...more
Peter Kobryn
A lauded and celebrated book written in the 1960’s that I always have had in the back of my mind to read.

I picked this book up at the Derbyshire CCC bookshop while there for a game and enjoyed reading this lyrical mix of cricket, politics, biography and history.

The depth of James’ attachment to his homeland and his care and passion for its’ development at a significant period in its history comes out loud and clear in this book.

The detailed explanation of the internecine rivalries of the club
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
Jun 18, 2012 Meo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cricket
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
Nov 18, 2013 Dave Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 30, 2012 Jamyang Phuntsok rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 07, 2014 Santosh Kumar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Jun 24, 2010 Alec rated it really liked it
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
Chris Emmerson
Dec 15, 2015 Chris Emmerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sport
A remarkable book, both intensely of its time - James' own experiences growing up and coming to the UK and his portraits of cricketers he has known often evoke a vanished world in which cricket is central to life experiences - and utterly contemporary, with deep thinking of how culture, history, society and sport are intertwined. Entirely lives up to its reputation as one of the greatest books ever written about sport.
Mujeeb Khan
Aug 05, 2015 Mujeeb Khan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's one of my favourites. The love of cricket the love of literature and the interplay of cultures and to be a gentleman after what colonialism can do to you. Amazing! brilliant!
Sep 20, 2007 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2015 Roger Mckenzie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 16, 2014 Ajk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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,
Hrishikesh Varma
Apr 01, 2015 Hrishikesh Varma rated it it was amazing
No superlative is good enough for this book. The best book on cricket. Period.
Gautam Sengupta
I think this book will be good
Anthony Cupitt
Jul 17, 2015 Anthony Cupitt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: textbooks, philosophy
Still as relevant today as it was when it was written. What James says about the zeitgeist of cricket encapsulates all the complexities of the modern game.
May 23, 2015 Sanjay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the finest books I have read!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 36 37 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport
  • On Warne
  • The Art of Captaincy
  • Harold Larwood
  • Rain Men: The Madness of Cricket
  • A Lot Of Hard Yakka
  • Coming Back to Me
  • Penguins Stopped Play
  • Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew
  • A Social History of English Cricket
  • True Colours
  • Ponting: At The Close Of Play
  • Pundits from Pakistan: On Tour with India, 2003-04
  • The Wrong Stuff
  • 'There Ain't no Black in the Union Jack': The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation
  • John Wright's Indian Summers
  • Fatty Batter
  • My Father And Other Working Class Football Heroes
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...

Share This Book

“What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” 13 likes
More quotes…