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The Proper Study Of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 4 Jul 2013
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"He speaks with such infectious energy that he sweeps us up and carries us with him into territory that had seemed inaccessible. He becomes everyman's guide to everything exciting in the history of ideas" (New York Review of Books)
"A restatement of liberalism in a form by which the world could live" (Observer)
"His uniqueness can be very well sampled in this admirable selection... Large as it is, it can serve only to stimulate the appetite" (Evening Standard)
"The pleasure in reading Berlin lies in the clarity of the argument, in the laying out of his monumental sentences and paragraphs each of which is complete in itself while part of the greater and seemingly irrefutable whole which is gradually and massively revealed" (Observer)
About the Author
Isaiah Berlin was born in Riga, now capital of Latvia, in 1909. When he was six, his family moved to Russia, and in Petrograd in 1917 Berlin witnessed both Revolutions - Social Democratic and Bolshevik. In 1921 he and his parents emigrated to England, where he was educated at St Paul's School, London, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Apart from his war service in New York, Washington, Moscow and Leningrad, he remained at Oxford thereafter - as a Fellow of All Souls, then of New College, as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, and as founding President of Wolfson College. He also held the Presidency of the British Academy.
His published work includes Karl Marx, Russian Thinkers, Concepts and Categories, Against the Current, Personal Impressions, The Sense of Reality, The Proper Study of Mankind, The Roots of Romanticism, The Power of Ideas, Three Critics of the Enlightenment, Freedom and Its Betrayal, Liberty, The Soviet Mind and Political Ideas in the Romantic Age. As an exponent of the history of ideas he was awarded the Erasmus, Lippincott and Agnelli Prizes; he also received the Jerusalem Prize for his lifelong defence of civil liberties. He died in 1997.
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In this volume Henry Hardy, as in the "Roots of Romanticism", acts as editor to collate a series of the most popular of Berlin's past essays. You only have to read "The Hedgehog and the Fox" or "The Originality of Machiavelli" to discover just how successfully and entertainingly Berlin manages to explain what many other writers struggle to do. Berlin is clearly not only deeply knowledgeable but also passionate about his topic and you can feel just how much he wants to communicate his knowledge and ideas. These essays are almost "alive" in the sense of the man behind them breathing life into the words.
This book is very highly recommended reading for anyone who feels the need to know how we arrived at where we are today via the classical civilisations, through to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Romanticism and on to today.