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 historian of Russian intelligentsia, biographer of Marx, scholar of the Romantic movement, and defender of the liberal idea of freedom against Soviet tyranny.
In this definitive biography, a remarkable ten-year collaboration between biographer and subject, Michael Ignatieff charts the emergence of a unique liberal temperament—serene, comic, secular, and unafraid—while examining its influence on Berlin's vision of liberalism, which stressed the often tragic nature of political and moral choice.
A masterful work, illuminating, and beautifully written, Isaiah Berlin: A Life is destined to take its place among the great modern biographies.
"Michael Ignatieff has written a brilliant, tender, and insightful biography of this complex, important, and influential thinker."—The Globe and Mail