Isaiah Berlin: A Life

Front Cover
Penguin Books Canada, 2000 - Philosophers - 356 pages
"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, biographer of Marx, scholar of the Romantic movement, and defender of the liberal idea of freedom against Soviet tyranny. When he died in 1997, he was hailed as the most important liberal philosopher of his time." "But Berlin's life was not only a life of the mind. Present at the crucial events of our age, he was in Washington during World War II, in Moscow at the dawn of the Cold War, in Israel as the new state came into being." "For this definitive biography - the result of a remarkable ten-year collaboration between biographer and subject - Michael Ignatieff, himself a leading public intellectual, interviewed Berlin extensively and was granted complete access to his papers, one of the largest archives in Anglo-American cultural history. Ignatieff charts the emergence of a unique liberal temperament - serene, comic, secular, and unafraid - and he examines its influence on Berlin's vision of liberalism, which stressed the often tragic nature of political and moral choice."--BOOK JACKET.

What people are saying - Write a review

ISAIAH BERLIN: A Life

User Review  - Kirkus

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

Other editions - View all

About the author (2000)

Michael Ignatieff, born in Toronto in 1947. But at the age of 11, Ignatieff was sent to Toronto to attend Upper Canada College as a boarder in 1959. At UCC, Ignatieff was elected a school prefect as Head of Wedd's House, was the captain of the varsity soccer team, and served as editor-in-chief of the school's yearbook. As well, Ignatieff volunteered for the Liberal Party during the 1965 federal election by canvassing the York South riding. He resumed his work for the Liberal Party in 1968, as a national youth organizer and party delegate for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau party leadership campaign. He then went on to continue his education at the University of Toronto and Harvard and Cambridge universities. In 1976, Ignatieff completed his Ph.D in History at Harvard University. He was granted a Cambridge M.A. by incorporation in 1978 on taking up a fellowship at King's College there. Michael Ignatieff has written television programs for the BBC, novels, and works of nonfiction. He has also authored essays and reviews for several publications including The New York Times. From 1990-93, he wrote a weekly column on international affairs for The Observer. His family memoir, The Russian Album, received Canada's Governor General Award in 1988. His second novel, Scar Tissue, was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1993. Other nonfiction works include A Just Measure of Pain, the Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution and the Warrior's Honor: Ethic War and the Modern Conscience.

Bibliographic information