A Corner of a Foreign Field by Ramachandra Guha – Book Review

Ramachandra Guha is an Indian Historian and a columnist. His notable works include India After Gandhi and Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World. He has been awarded with several accolades for his achievements in the field of history. He has experiences of teaching at Yale University, the Indian Institute of Science and the University of California at Berkeley. He was also the Indo – American Community chair professor in 1997 and 1998. 

A Corner of a Foreign Field is a fascinating fusion of Indian history and Indian cricket.The book is divided into four chapters titled Race, Caste, Religion and Nation respectively. The first three chapter greatly benefit from thorough research and the skill of a great historian. The last chapter contains more of the authors feeling and opinion. Nevertheless, the book does not suffer from the personal feeling of the author. Throughout the book, the reader can experience the author’s love for the game. 

Palwankar Baloo

A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport is a book about, one feels, the life of cricket in India so far. It is not just a history of the sport, but also a as much objective document of the sport as is possible. Cricket in India, as it is often said, is more than a sport. It evokes strong feelings from the audience and it won’t be an exaggeration to say that the team carries the burden of expectations of a billion people. Every on and off the field happening related to cricket is closely watched and excites opinions from all. This book views the unique sport through the lenses of race, religion, caste and nation. It speaks about the beginnings of cricket in India, how people reacted to this sport, its growth, impact and reception, BCCI, politics and much more. The book also gives insights into lives of people connected to the sport in one way or the other. The tales of cricketers like C. K Nayudu, Vijay Merchant, Palwankar Baloo and his brothers, Vijay Hazare makes it an interesting experience. It is astonishing how the game reflects the society at that point of time and the impacts each have had on one another throughout their history. It portrays the socio-cultural, political, economical aspects of the society by placing cricket at its centre. The book reflects the feelings of both an enthusiastic admirer of the sport and a historian keen on the socio-political happenings. The tales about cricketers are also good character sketches of the person. Not surprising, the story of Palwankar Baloo and his family is at the heart of this book as this originally began as a book about the life of Baloo. The book draws information heavily from newspapers of the day and the author uses this information beautifully to breathe life into the stories. The responses of various presses to the sport make for an interesting read. The knowledge of the author is seamless woven into the narrative. The writing of this book makes it an engaging experience even for a person not acquainted with the sport. Even for a fan of cricket, the book has much to offer and provide a great experience. It provides a whole lot new information and perspective even to a devoted follower of the sport.

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