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Isaiah Berlin: A Life

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Isaiah Berlin was witness to a century. Born in the twilight of the Czarist empire, he lived long enough to see the Soviet state collapse. The son of a Riga timber merchant and the first Jew elected to a fellowship at All Souls, Oxford, he was a presiding judge of intellectual life on both sides of the Atlantic for sixty years: historian of the Russian intelligentsia, biog ...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by Metropolitan Books (first published September 17th 1991)
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Sydney Goggins
A thorough biography of one of the 20th century's premier liberal thinkers. Ignattief provides a detailed account of Berlin's life, from his childhood in Riga and Petrograd during the Bolshevik revolution to his years at Oxford and Princeton as a renowned philosopher. We learn that Berlin had three interconnecting identities, Russian, Jewish and English; that he celebrated Seder and Yom Kippur despite being an atheist, and that he viewed Britain's open political system as an embodiment of plural ...more
April
Okay, I'm only a hundred or so pages into this book, but I love it love it love it.

I like Berlin's and Ignatieff's writing - each of them, so I figured I'd enjoy something that merged both their thinking...and it is wonderful.

Ignatieff has a wonderful forward where he links Berlin's personality to his philosophy and values....absolutely fascinating idea, and once you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

More to come!
Marco den Ouden
I became interested in Isaiah Berlin's thought in 2013 and read his essay on Two Concepts of Liberty and followed that up with Political Ideas in the Romantic Age which I found very interesting and compelling reading. I knew that former Canadian Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff had been a student of Berlin's and wrote a biography of him so I picked this up. Ignatieff is a better biographer than a politician, that's for sure. This is a brilliant biography. A fascinating story of a fascinating man ...more
Joseph Sales
Is it too much to ask that America be more like Canada, where people like Trudeau, Charles Taylor, Michael Ignatieff can create good public policy and also be serious thinkers? Do you see Bachmann writing a biography of Kant?

Bought this on liquidation at Borders. They're selling even the fixtures, counters, and shelves. What an abject ending.

"That summer he paid a visit to the most famous refugee from Nazi Europe, Sigmund Freud. Freud's wife was a relative of a family friend, Oscar Phillip. Th
...more
Sean
"We are doomed to choose and every choice may entail an irreparable loss. The world we encounter in ordinary experience is one in which we are faced with choices between ends equally ultimate and claims equally absolute, the realization of some of which must inevitably involve the sacrifice of others...If, as I believe, the ends of men are many, and not all of them are in principle compatible with each other, then the possibility of conflict — and of tragedy — can never wholly be eliminated from ...more
Rosie
Excellent biography with well-integrated exposition of Berlin's philosophy. Berlin's identity (a blending of Russian, Jew, English, with experience living in America during WWII) shaped his philosophy. His key ideas included: 1) the fundamental incompatibility of liberal values, necessitating some compromise; 2) two kinds of freedom, negative freedom (freedom from constraints and oppression), and positive freedom (freedom to be who you're meant to be even if you aren't aware of it); this latter ...more
Chris Percival
It wos like well good an that
Rahim
ترجمهای بی نظیر از فضای سیاسی طبقهی اشراف قرن بیستم. دو بخش کتاب افسونگر بود: دیدار وی با ویتگنشتاین و شاعر تنها، آنا آخماتووا...
هیچکس بر در من نمیکوبد، تنها آینه خواب آیینهای میبیند و سکوت به نگهبانی میایستد در برابر سکوت. ژانویهی
ص، ترجمهی عبدالله کوثری،نشر ماهی .
...more
Bill

This is a wonderful biography of Isaiah Berlin.
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Michael Grant Ignatieff is a Canadian author, academic and former politician. He was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition from 2008 until 2011. Known for his work as a historian, Ignatieff has held senior academic posts at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the University of Toronto.
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