Book Review: Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians by Boria Majumdar

ISBN 978-938-679-7186

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Sports

Publishers: Simon & Schuster India

Price: Rs. 699/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

From one of India’s best-known sports journalists, a fascinating exploration of cricket—India’s most popular sport—packed with lively anecdotes and never-before-seen photographs.

Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians takes you behind the scenes of India’s most popular sport—going from early tours in 1886 to the more contemporary IPL, offering a complete understanding of the evolution of the game both on and off the field. Featuring material that has never-been-released, this book sheds new light on cases like Monkeygate, the suspension of Lalit Modi, match-fixing scandals, and more.

Weaving together personal interviews, photographs, and letters, Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians unflinchingly asks the questions that need answering, among them: Has internal conflict impacted the on- field performance of the Indian cricket team? Did some icons fail the country and the sport by trying to conceal important facts during the spot-fixing investigation? And does it matter to the ordinary fan who heads the BCCI as long as there is transparency and accountability in the system?

Chronicling the history of cricket throughout colonial and post-colonial Indian life, Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians offers fascinating insight into those who patronize, promote, play, and watch the sport, as well as the entire nation now considered the global hub of the world of cricket.

About the Author

Boria Majumdar, a Rhodes scholar, is a Research Fellow at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He has taught at the Universities of Chicago and Toronto and has written extensively on the history and politics of cricket in India and across the world. Deputy Executive Academic Editor of the International Journal of History of Sport and Executive Academic Editor of Sport in Society, he is General Editor of the Routledge Series, 'Sport in the Global Society'. Some of his books include Twenty-Two Yards to Freedom: A Social History of Indian Cricket (2004), Goalless: The Story of a Unique Footballing Nation (2006) and The Illustrated History of Indian Cricket (2006).

Having grown up in a country where cricket is akin to religion, reading this book was surely a huge treat! After all who doesn’t worship those men in blue who have the magical capacity to make us cry or laugh at the drop of a ball? (Pun intended!)

Coming to the book, Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians – The On and Off- The field story of Cricket in India and Beyond by Boria Majumdar is an ode to the biggest sport in our country, cricket. And it is a spectacular one at that. This book takes us back to the time when the cricket craze was still budding. The author writes about the early tours in 1886 to the recent IPL games making us understand the evolution of the game as a layman. I liked the way despite being a journalist the author has not used too many fancy jargons in the book and has kept it lucid and simple. This makes it an easy, enjoyable and engaging read.

Another thing which I loved in the book was the way various famous incidents like Monkeygate, match-fixing, the Lalit Modi scandal and other such fiascos were discussed. The author doesn’t try to cover up, sound preachy or defensive, having been a close spectator to all the happenings. Rather he shows us these events in a new light. He tells us things which perhaps none of the newspapers or magazines dealing with these incidents had ever written about, making us reanalyze the whole chain of events.

With a narrative that simply flows, the author holds your attention till the last page. This book also has a collection of some rare pictures which are pure thrill to flip through. For me, the most favourite part were the anecdotes the author has sprinkled the narrative with so liberally. They bring out the enthusiasm of the sport and the sportsperson so well that you cannot help but feel inspired. Their interviews and letters are the perfect dose for a sports enthusiast. Lastly, the author has raised some very important questions, some of which I am sure most of us have perhaps discussed to death on endless cups of chai but never dared to put it out publicly. The book is extremely well researched and superbly written. It shows in the chronicles. While watching a cricket match there are moments when you feel immensely proud of it all and then there are moments when you feel let down, the book captures these oscillating feelings with an exceptional accuracy.

Kudos to the author for writing a book that captures the true essence of cricket since time immemorial till today in this rare and incredible book. Strongly recommended to all cricket aficionados and sports lovers, this is one book that should be there on your bookshelf.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Woodapple sherbet - a perfect companion for a hot summer afternoon!

Source: Tongue Ticklers