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In this critical introduction to the works and ideas of Isaiah Berlin, the author pays especial attention to Berlin's political thinking, but brings out the connections between it and Berlin's other themes and preoccupations, particularly those which find expression in Berlin's books of essays in the history of ideas (notable among such volumes is "The Crooked Timber of Humanity"). The author also wrote "Liberalisms" and "Post-Liberalism".
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“A brief and accessible introduction to Berlin’s thought ... lucid and readable.”
RAY MONK, 'Sunday Telegraph'
“Gray, in this lively study, sees Berlin as possessing the intellectual’s ambition, more Russian than Anglo-Saxon, of communicating ‘a conception of human life as a whole’. Part-historian, part-philosopher, part-literary artist – and one must never underestimate the writerly qualities of his supremely articulate prose – Berlin, as Gray represents him, offers a coherent, often original, overriding view of political and moral life, the unity of which has never properly been teased out from his multifarious writings ... Gray’s book is a worthy one, and will no doubt stimulate interest and debate.”
ROGER CALDWELL, 'Literary Review'
“Not a biography of Berlin but a heroic endeavour to iron out the tensions in his thought ... Berlin’s message is not comforting to conventional liberal establishment susceptibilities. As this book insists, it is deeply subversive. Gray finds in Berlin’s ‘value pluralism’ the 'leitmotif' of all his writings. Ultimate human values, Berlin insists, are conflictive; they cannot be reconciled by rational calculation since they are not measurable, least of all can they be reconciled by what Gray dismisses as ‘the desiccated discourse of Anglo-American philosophy’, which Berlin abandoned as incapable of solving anything of importance to us as human beings, at worst a game of juggling with words, at best a species of mental arithmetic dispelling tragic confusions ... This book admirably expounds Berlin’s ‘unique and permanent achievement’ as a latter-day Job demolishing the metaphysical consolation to which we cling.”
RAYMOND CARR, 'Spectator'
“John Gray’s eloquent book is welcome, because it measures Berlin’s achievement correctly and tries to give it a systematic statement ... Gray has performed a major service in setting out and discussing the broader outlines of Berlin’s thought. His robust and readable book doubtless marks the beginning of a welcome debate about Berlin and his ideas.”
A.C. GRAYLING, 'Financial Times'
“Gray is a forceful writer, an engaged political theorist with a serious interest in philosophical fundamentals.”
STEVEN LUKES, 'Times Literary Supplement'
“A textbook example of philosophical exegesis.”
OLIVER LETWIN, 'The Times'
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