William Macmahon Ball (1901–86) was many things: an academic, a diplomat, a writer, and what we would now refer to as a ‘public intellectual’. As Ai Kobayashi’s new study of this fascinating man ably demonstrates, Ball was predominantly an educator. In the classroom, through books, and in the media, Ball encouraged his audience to reflect more deeply and actively on Australia’s relations with the outside world. From World War II onwards, Australia’s relationship with Asia was among his chief concerns. During his time as Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University (1949–68), Ball did much to accelerate the development of Asian studies in Australia.