Amartya Sen's teeming account of an ecumenical life lived across three continents and over nine decades, in the interstices of colonial encounter, takes the reader on an intimate journey through some of the most significant global, intellectual, and historical events of the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We learn of Sen's formative years at Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan University (he was named by the sage himself), and of the lasting impact of the Bengal Famine of 1943 on his oeuvre and outlook. At Cambridge (where Sen was a student and later master of Trinity College, becoming the first Asian head of an Oxbridge college), his interlocuters included Edward Morgan Forster and Piero Sraffa—the Italian economist who reputedly catalyzed Wittgenstein's later work by scratching his (own) chin with an upward sweep to communicate a non-verbal “form of life” expletive. Sraffa and the Marxian Maurice Dobb, among others, fueled...

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