Isaiah Berlin: A Life

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Random House, Jan 31, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages
Isaiah Berlin refused to write an autobiography, but he agreed to talk about himself - and so for ten years, he allowed Michael Ignatieff to interview him. Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) was one of the greatest and most humane of modern philosophers; historian of the Russian intellgentisia biographer of Marx, pioneering scholar of the Romantic movement and defender of the liberal idea of freedom. His own life was caught up in the most powerful currents of the century. The son of a Riga timber merchant, he witnessed the Russian Revolution, was plunged into suburban school life and the ferment of 1930s Oxford; he became part of the British intellectual establishment During the war, he as at the heart of Anglo-American diplomacy in Washington; afterwards in Moscow he saw the grim despair of Stalinism. The book is full of memorable meetings - with Virginia Woolf and Sigmund Freud, with Churchill, with Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova. Yet Ignatieff is not afraid to delve into Berlin's conflicts: his jewish idealism, his deep aspirations. This is a work of great subtelty and penetration, exhilarating and intimate, powerful and profound.

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ISAIAH BERLIN: A Life

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A polished life of the century's preeminent liberal (in the classic sense) philosopher. Just as Berlin's critics complained he never wrote a single-volume magnum opus but only essays, Berlin's friends ... Read full review

Isaiah Berlin: a life

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Ignatieff (The Warrior's Honor, LJ 1/98) met and conferred with Berlin periodically over a ten-year period until Berlin's death at the age of 88 in 1997. He also spent hours talking to Berlin's wife ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Michael Ignatieff is internationally renowned both as a commentator on moral, ethical and political issues and as a novelist. His novel Scar Tissue was short listed for the Booker Prize in 1993, and his non-fiction works include a biography of Isaiah Berlin, and four books on ethnic war and intervention: Blood and Belonging, The Warrior's Honour, Virtual War and the recent Empire Lite: Nation Building in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan.

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