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Against The Current: Essays in the History of Ideas (Pimlico) [Kindle Edition]

Isaiah Berlin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Berlin's main theme in these essays is the importance in the history of ideas of dissenters whose thinking still challenges conventional wisdom - among them Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Herzen and Sorel. With his unusual powers of imaginative re-creation, he brings to life original minds that swam against the current of their times, and in the process offers a powerful defence of variety in our visions of life.

Roger Hausheer's introduction surveys Berlin's whole oeuvre, and the full bibliography of his pubication has been updated for this Pimlico edition.

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"A most remarkable intellectual achievement. There are few books published in our time which more dazzlingly illuminate some of the most crucial problems of western culture and civilisation" (Encounter)

"Berlin expounds with idea of half-forgotten thinkers with luminous clarity and imaginative empathy... exhilirating to read" (Observer)

"The most imaginative, distinguished and erudite of historians of ideas in this country" (Anthony Quinton Spectator)

"Isaiah Berlin has a masterly grasp. He is one of the most concerned liberal minds in Europe" (V.S. Pritchett New Statesman)

Book Description

Berlin's main theme in these essays is the importance in the history of thought of dissenters whose ideas still challenge conventional wisdom.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 853 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (30 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #343,187 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvel of clarity 5 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read a few essays by Isaiah Berlin 30 years ago, I was inspired by Mark Lilla's recent article in the New York Review of Books (April 25 2013) to revisit his work. I re-read his most known essay "The Hedgehog and the Fox", and realized that it was necessary to renew the acquaintance. I am currently reading this collection of essays, and I marvel at the clarity of Berlin's exposition. Murky ideas are analysed, and complicated relationships are investigated. His ability to visualize the long historical lines of ideas and arguments is breath-taking. His own view, that liberal values are manifold and not necessarily always compatible with each other, is part of the discussion, but does not dominate it. Berlin's essays need to be read by anyone who cares about our civilization.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 11 Aug. 2014
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 26 July 2014
excellent in all respects
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I chose this book as a required reading for my seminar. 11 Sept. 1998
By - Published on
I like this book because it is very interesting and informative. I began reading it for pleasure, but by the time I was half way finished, I was sure of its serious nature and had decided to adopt it as a required reading in the seminar that I teach on the economic impact of globalization. The author succeeds in presenting the right mix of theory and history with sufficient analysis. It is well researched and very well organized. It should prove as interesting to the general reader as it is informative for the academics. However, its treatment of classical economists is far superior to the section dealing with contemporary writeres on free trade. Hopefully, in the second edition the author will remedy this shortcomeing.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some publisher: Please reprint this wonderful book! 12 Nov. 1998
By - Published on
"Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas" has long been out of print and is hard to find in the used market. I wish some publisher would reprint it--I'm sure it would sell well. It was my introduction to this wonderful, careful, rational thinker and his ideas on pluralism, among many other topics. I'm not smart enough to summarize his thought for public consumption; you must read him for yourself. If you are a warm, loving, human being who is interested in how we got to our present intellectual condition, after reading him you will be a convert. Libraries often have "Against the Current," but you can also find great riches in his other books, some of which will be happy to send to you. Put his name in Keyword Search and check out the numerous titles they carry. (No, I'm not a salesman, just a fan.) I can recommend "Crooked Timber of Humanity" as a good start. For a (still) fresh reading of the life of Karl Marx read Berlin's biography of him. Enrich your life; READ ISAIAH BERLIN!!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The special joy of seeing a great mind work 17 Jan. 2005
By Shalom Freedman - Published on
Itis simply a great pleasure to read Isaiah Berlin. His richness in thought, his verbal fluency his strong sense of values and clear understanding of the historical context in which he is presenting the ideas- all this combines to make reading him an adventure of the mind. In this work the third group of his essays put together by his faithful student and friend Henry Hardy the theme is those thinkers who go against the current, who walk their own way, hear their own drummer. Macchiavelli, Vico,Hume,Montesquieu, Herzen, Disraeli,Moses Hess, Verdi, and Marx, Sorel are all interpreted here . There is an essay on' The Counter- Enlightentment, one on The Divorce between the Sciences and the Humanities, one on ' Nationalism: Past Neglect and Present Power. The introduction to the volume is written by Roger Hausher.

As with all the writings of Berlin one will learn a great deal by reading this work- and have great pleasure in doing so.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A core text of modern liberal pluralism 29 Oct. 1997
By - Published on
One of the great, and certainly at least in some quarters most influential, books of historical/ philosophical/ social thinking of the century. An argument for liberal pluralism, not as an abstract theory, but as a pragmatic necessity in the absence of the possibility of theoretical justification. Berlin almost obsessively (except that obsessive is the last word you could imagine applying to Isaiah Berlin) reiterates implicitly, in a collection of, originally independently published, essays on European intellectual history, his ironically simple thesis that the world is complex and contradictory, and not reducible to the terms of simple moral, social or policial ideas. Further, his prose, which - like his thinking - is in the tradition of Hume and Diderot, makes him an unalloyed pleasure to read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you want to make a step to understand the present world? 25 July 2006
By Francois Ascani - Published on
If you think the present world is full of contradictions, of opposing philosophies, and that it might be doomed, please give a chance at this set of essais by Isaiah Berlin. Not only his writing is clear and flowing, but his argumentation is very enlightening. Isaiah Berlin will never be controversial. He will never take a strong position. He will let you decide. Like an archeologist, he put back to life the ideas who were considered crazy at their time, and now looked much more reasonable. Even the introduction by Roger Hausheer gives you a lecherous taste of what is inside. And I was not disappointed. Thinking that there are ten more books on essays by Berlin, my head is spining. Did he not say already everything in this one...?
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