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Freedom and Its Betrayal:
Six Enemies of Human Liberty
Isaiah Berlin
Edited by Henry Hardy

Book Description | Table of Contents


"Berlin says that people are individuals and have a right to be respected, that liberty is supreme, that we wish for many things in life and must compromise, and that authority is dangerous and power must be under control. And he says what he says in magnificent style. Liberal values are simple truths which are always in danger of being crowded out by philosophical systems."--Stein Ringen, Times Literary Supplement

"Berlin sets out to inform, entertain, and defend the Anglo-Saxon concepts of liberty and pluralism against all comers. . . . The language is vivid, direct, playful, learned; the presentation ordered and concise."--Jeremy Lott, Chronicles


"[Berlin's] lecturing style . . . proved enormously successful as broadcasting. . . . [H]undreds of thousands of people tuned in . . . to listen to fiendishly difficult hour-long talks, delivered in clipped, rapid-fire Oxford accent. These were the lectures that led Eliot, in his barbed way, to congratulate Isaiah for his 'torrential eloquence'; and the conservative Michael Oakeshotte to praise him, in equally barbed fashion, as 'the Paganini of the platform'. . . . The conventional signs of public attention poured in: anonymous ladies knitted him red socks; cranks sent him manuscripts. . . . The head of [the BBC's] Radio 3 hailed the talks as a landmark in British broadcasting, and they were certainly a landmark in Berlin's life. The search to find his own intellectual vocation had been a central preoccupation since his return from the war. With the broadcast of 'Freedom and Its Betrayal,' that struggle resolved itself. . . . He had become a public intellectual--in the Russian mould, but in an English idiom."--Michael Ignatieff, Isaiah Berlin: A Life

"This is one of the most important books on the history of ideas in Berlin's oeuvre. The lectures are clearer than many of his later writings and are extremely compelling. Berlin was convinced that, for all its praise of liberty, the Enlightenment was in fact hostile to it, and that the Counter-Enlightenment offered sounder intellectual grounds for defending and extending liberty. Even those who disagree with this diagnosis of modern thought will have to confront it."--Mark Lilla, University of Chicago

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File created: 4/21/2017

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