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Beyond A Boundary [Paperback]

Cyril Lionel Robert James
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 July 2005

C L R James, one of the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century, was devoted to the game of cricket. In this classic summation of half a lifetime spent playing, watching and writing about the sport, he recounts the story of his overriding passion and tells us of the players whom he knew and loved, exploring the game's psychology and aesthetics, and the issues of class, race and politics that surround it.

Part memoir of a West Indian boyhood, part passionate celebration and defence of cricket as an art form, part indictment of colonialism, Beyond a Boundary addresses not just a sport but a whole culture and asks the question, 'What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey; New Ed edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022407427X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224074278
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Great claims have been made for [Beyond a Boundary] since its first appearance in 1963: that it is the greatest sports book ever written; that it brings the outsider a privileged insight into West Indian culture; that it is a severe examination of the colonial condition. All are true" (Sunday Times)

"To say "the best cricket book ever written" is piffingly inadequate praise. A mental landscape triangulated by literature, socialism and cricket represents an ideal we should all aspire to, and this ennobling and beautifully written book should be read by anyone with the slightest interest in any one of the above" (Guardian)

"Anyone who has not encountered [Beyond A Boundary] should seize the chance now" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Years ago I had presumed, on being repeatedly told that C L R James' Beyond A Boundary was the finest sports book ever written, that it was the opposite; in fact, James' erudite tale probably warrants that label" (Independent)

"An innovative mixture of autobiography, sports journalism and political philosophy" (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

'The most finely crafted book on cricket ever written' - The Times

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lives up to its reputation 30 Nov 2005
Format:Paperback
Beyond a Boundary reached number 3 in the Observer Sport Monthly’s poll of the best fifty sports books of all time. It is burdened with enormous praise; amongst the quotes included on the cover are: ‘To say “the best cricket book ever written” is pifflingly inadequate praise’ and ‘Great claims have been made for [Beyond a Boundary] since its first appearance in 1963: that it is the greatest sports book ever written; that it brings the outsider a privileged insight into West Indian culture; that it is a severe examination of the colonial condition. All are true.’
The praise is justified. The only way that this is not the best cricket book ever written is if you do not consider it as a cricket book. It is beautifully crafted, transcending the genre: an engaging combination of cricket book, personal memoir and political and cultural commentary. There are other very good books about cricket but this is something more than that. It is a cricket book, a history book, a sociology book and more.
CLR James is a fascinating man: widely travelled, spending long periods in England and the USA as well as Trinidad, an important writer and journalist, a politically active Marxist, instrumental in getting Frank Worrell appointed captain of the West Indies team. The book covers a wide range of subjects including his childhood in Trinidad; great cricketers he has known and watched; Caribbean politics amongst others. For cricket lovers one of the beautiful things about the book is that James loves cricket, he appreciates it as an art form. He possesses the clarity of thought and the prose to convey this love and appreciation to the reader.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond comparison - an extraordinary book 16 Jun 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This beautiful, rich, complex and deeply satisfying book still haunts me nearly a year after reading it for the first time. James takes you through his life, the history of West Indian society and the role of cricket in both with a vigour and erudition that lifts the book from the mere 'sports' category.
Cricket, and the power it can have over an individual and a people, is central to his story. The development of cricket, people and politics in the West Indies was intertwined for most of the 20th century. And James does us all an immense favour by untangling these strands carefully, deliberately and intelligently and then for good measure shines a light on England and its' own cricketing heritage. It is a wonderful read.
Read this book if you love cricket, if you're fascinated by political history, if you love writing that is so good it leaves you breathless. Whatever your reason, just read it; and then spread the word.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beyond classification 9 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Beyond a boundary is an extraordinary book, CLR James manages to seamlessly interweave anecdotes, cricketing technique, politics, his love for his country and his fellow men (cricketing and otherwise), legends of the game and the deveolpment of the game together with a tremendous sense of the importance of cricket in our culture and civilisation. It is not a light and easy read, or a book I would recommend universally, but the interest that you show in it is well rewarded with the depth of insight that you gain from every single page. I read it six months ago, and it remains in my mind far more vividly than many books I have read since for the renewed interest that it has given me towards a game I have always loved, but now look at with more reverence and understanding. Cricket is not life and death to everyone, but while reading this book it will appear that it could, or even should be.
It is more complex and thought provoking than any other sporting book I have ever encountered, and as such does not deserve the classification of sports book, though I couldn't begin to suggest how it SHOULD be classified!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Anyone for 'the aestheticians of painting'? 9 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback
I used to lie when people asked if I had read Beyond a Boundary. I'd read A Lot of Hard Yakka and On and Off the Field and Unleashed (Jack Russell's autobiography in case you're wondering), but I hadn't read Beyond a Boundary? It wasn't possible. So I lied. All that colonialism stuff and the WG chapter? Yes, of course I've read it. And I got away with it. Every time. Why? Because I don't think many other people have read it either.

My god, it's a tough read. The toughest of all is chapter 16 'What is Art?' which is part of Part Six, 'The Art and Practic Part'. Just those titles tell you everything you need to know. Sample sentence - 'what is really significant in Michelangelo is his bounding line'. Whole pages can go by without a mention of cricket, or indeed anything remotely intelligible. I've reread the chapter and reread it again and I'm still not clear who 'Mr. Bernhard Berenson' is, or what his relation is to cricket, art or practics.

The chapter I enjoyed most was chapter 13, 'Prolegomena to WG', despite being unable to find 'prolegomena' in my Collins English Dictionary. It's a really interesting dissection of WG's importance to the development of cricket technique. Before WG, players were back players or forward players. WG was apparently the first who was comfortable playing off either foot.

Beyond a Boundary is unavoidably dated. It was first published in 1963 after all. All the stuff about WG being a pre-Victorian (or was that post-Victorian?) doesn't mean anything any more. And, let's be honest about this, it's just too damned highbrow. I don't feel too bad about not knowing what 'prolegomena' means. Beyond a Boundary may make every list of best cricket books, but I think I'll stick with Being Freddie.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't recommend highly enough
I ordered this book on the strength of a blog post by Kenan Malik. I'm not a huge fan of cricket and reading this book was sometimes like reading a Patrick O'Brien novel (a lot of... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Paul WS Bowler
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
This book is unique - the work of a unique author. A person who can write with equal authority, wit and - on occasion - poignancy on cricket (this book) and on the Haiti slave... Read more
Published 16 months ago by ECD
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied customer
I bought this book for my husband and he was delighted with it as he is a massive cricket fan. It arrived in perfect condition within a matter of days. Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2011 by MHC Kimberley
4.0 out of 5 stars Supersport
This is a most unusual book, part autobiography, part politics, part cricket. It is beautifully written, essential reading for those of us who think of cricket as a spiritual... Read more
Published on 18 July 2010 by Mr. Jonathan Bayley
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Cricket Book ever?
Unlike most cricket books, this is not simply about cricket in isolation. It is a book about cricket and life itself, and the life of the author in particular. Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2009 by D. Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest cricket book ever written
This is the greatest cricket book ever written. It's amazing. Because it's not about cricket. It's about life, about class, about politics, about colonialism, about racism. Read more
Published on 29 Sep 2008 by Chris Widgery
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
James challenges classification himself. A marxist with a fascination for the establishment game of cricket and other establishment features - the English public school and... Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2004 by "verytallguy"
3.0 out of 5 stars Colonial Cricket
Here’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for years but was disappointed when I did. For the cricket buff, there’s some ancient history which, via W G Grace and... Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2002 by gwi
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic text on life in a emerging post-colonial society
James looks at life in Trinidad from the view of an outsider that also belongs to the society. In this classic text the truths and revelations that he examines still hold true for... Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2002 by Christian
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