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The Crooked Timber of Humanity:
Chapters in the History of Ideas
Second Edition
Isaiah Berlin
Edited by Henry Hardy
With a new foreword by John Banville

Paperback | 2013 | $24.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691155937
384 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 1 halftone. 1 table.
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Isaiah Berlin's Web Page

"Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made."--Immanuel Kant

Isaiah Berlin was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century--an activist of the intellect who marshaled vast erudition and eloquence in defense of the endangered values of individual liberty and moral and political plurality. In The Crooked Timber of Humanity he exposes the links between the ideas of the past and the social and political cataclysms of our own time: between the Platonic belief in absolute truth and the lure of authoritarianism; between the eighteenth-century reactionary ideologue Joseph de Maistre and twentieth-century Fascism; between the romanticism of Schiller and Byron and the militant--and sometimes genocidal--nationalism that convulses the modern world.

This new edition features a revised text that supplants all previous versions, a new foreword in which award-winning novelist John Banville discusses Berlin's life and ideas, particularly his defense of pluralism, and a substantial new appendix that provides rich context, including letters by Berlin and previously uncollected writings, most notably his virtuoso review of Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy.


"A beautifully patterned tapestry of philosophical thought . . . A history of ideas that possesses all the drama of a novel, all the immediacy of headline news."--New York Times

"The perfect guide through the complex radical changes that have swept Western societies . . . A brilliant, convincing work . . . humane, compassionate, important."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Overwhelming intelligence . . . [Berlin's] mind is captivating . . . His reflections . . . strike at the heart of our most parroted beliefs."--Washington Post Book World

"As a historian of ideas, [Berlin] has no equal; and what he has to say is expressed in prose of exceptional lucidity and grace."--Anthony Storr, Independent on Sunday

Table of Contents:

Foreword by John Banville xi
Editor's Preface xix
Note on References xxvi
The Pursuit of the Ideal 1
The Decline of Utopian Ideas in the West 21
Giambattista Vico and Cultural History 51
Alleged Relativism in Eighteenth-Century European Thought 73
Joseph de Maistre and the Origins of Fascism 95
Appendix: Violence and Terror 178
European Unity and Its Vicissitudes 186
The Apotheosis of the Romantic Will: The Revolt against the Myth of an Ideal World 219
The Bent Twig: On the Rise of Nationalism 253
Appendix to the Second Edition 279
Index 335

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Henry Hardy:

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