is one of India’s most distinguished public intellectuals and the quintessential liberal—an endangered species in our country these days. He has eschewed a traditional academic career even though he has had university assignments in India, Europe and North America. At the same time, he has been more prolific—both quantitatively and qualitatively—than most who hold university and think-tank appointments and epitomise the "leisure of the theory class". From a social history of the Himalayan forests (The Unquiet Woods
), to his grand biography of Verrier Elwin (Savaging the Civilised
), and his ground-breaking history of cricket (A Corner of a Foreign Field
), it is a remarkable oeuvre that we encounter. What makes his reach much greater than that of most academics is also the fact that his books and essays have been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Tamil, Hindi,...