Affirming by Isaiah Berlin
Letters 1975-1997

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...some of them were clearly conceived as semi-public statements. Berlin knew that his life and thought were already subject to divergent interpretations, and so in response to inquiries and critiques he devoted considerable effort to expounding and polishing his views.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The fourth and final volume of Isaiah Berlin's much admired letters

In this final volume, Isaiah Berlin enters a profoundly interesting last phase in his life. He is as prolific a correspondent as ever, but the publication of new essay collections produces a striking change in tone, as readers seek clarification of his ideas. Many of these letters throw substantive new light on his thought, and deal with issues of overriding importance to today’s world. Berlin dwells on pluralism of values and cultures, political liberalism, the defense of democracy, and the challenge posed by fundamentalism. But there is also a generous leavening of gossip to close friends, reflections on music, the arts, and artists, as well as a Shakespearean fascination with the variety of humankind. He reacts, as always, to world events: the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; the fall of Communism; the Falklands, Gulf, and Bosnian wars; and he observes the leading players on the world stage—Reagan, Thatcher, Begin, Sadat, Shamir, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Clinton, and Khomeini; especially illuminating is the contrast he draws between Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov. He declines a peerage, wins the Agnelli Prize for ethics, campaigns against the "carbuncle" proposed by the National Gallery, helps run Covent Garden, talks at length to his biographer, and works with his editor on new volumes of his writings. Affirming is the crowning achievement both of Berlin’s epistolary life and of the acclaimed edition of his letters that began publication 11 years ago.
 

About Isaiah Berlin

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Isaiah Berlin (1909–1997) was a noted political philosopher and is widely regarded as one of the leading liberal thinkers of the 20th century. He was awarded the Erasmus, Lippincott, and Agnelli prizes for his contributions to philosophy. Henry Hardy has edited more than 15 volumes of Berlin's letters and writings. Mark Pottle is an Oxford historian.
 
Published September 7, 2017 by Vintage Digital. 699 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Stefan Collini on Sep 03 2015

...some of them were clearly conceived as semi-public statements. Berlin knew that his life and thought were already subject to divergent interpretations, and so in response to inquiries and critiques he devoted considerable effort to expounding and polishing his views.

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