To understand modern India, one must look at the business of cricket within the country.
When Lalit Modi--an Indian businessman with a criminal record, a history of failed business ventures, and a reputation for audacious deal making--created a Twenty20 cricket league in India in 2008, the odds were stacked against him. International cricket was still controlled from London, where they played the long, slow game of Test cricket by the old rules. Indians had traditionally underperformed in the sport but the game remained a national passion. Adopting the highly commercial American model of sporting tournaments, and throwing scantily clad western cheerleaders into the mix, Modi gave himself three months to succeed. And succeed he did--dazzlingly--before he and his league crashed to earth amid astonishing scandal and corruption.
The emergence of the IPL is a remarkable tale. Cricket is at the heart of the miracle that is modern India. As a business, it represents everything that is most dynamic and entrepreneurial about the country's economic boom, including the industrious and aspiring middle-class consumers who are driving it. The IPL also reveals, perhaps to an unprecedented degree, the corrupt, back-scratching, and nepotistic way in which India is run.
A truly original work by a brilliant journalist, The Great Tamasha* makes the complexity of modern India--its aspiration and optimism straining against tradition and corruption--accessible like no other book has.
*Tamasha: a Hindi world meaning "a spectacle."
About the Author
James Astill is the political editor of The Economist. He was formerly the newspaper's South Asia Bureau Chief, stationed in New Delhi 2007-2010. He has also worked as the newspaper's defence editor, energy and environment editor and Afghanistan correspondent. He has won several journalism awards including America's Gerald R. Ford Prize for Reporting on National Defence, the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Environmental Reporting and a Ramnath Goenka Award for writing on India.
“The Great Tamasha is a book of breadth rather than depth. It buzzes with field trips and brisk interviews that sometimes bring insight, and more often momentum and freshness…His depiction is close-up and entertaining.” —New York Times Book Review
“Ambitious...The combination of reporter's notebook, sporting history and a descriptive style makes The Great Tamasha compelling reading.” —Financial Times
“A stirring study by an enthusiast of the game.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Pensive… at turns historical, sociological, and journalistic.” —Publisher's Weekly
“As Jacques Barzun said about understanding America through baseball, so Astill's book gives an insightful take on modern India.” —Booklist
“Peppered with star-studded interviews and transcripts of historic matches, Astill's history is a boon for any fan of cricket or interested bystander. Combining supple narrative and hard-hitting journalistic styles, his prose is a pleasure to read, with frequent wry humor bringing tears to the eyes.” —Shelf Awareness
“Energetic reporting and a fluent grasp of history…a compelling rendering of a cricket-mad country.” —The New Yorker