The mark of a great letter writer is not the number of letters sent, but the number subsequently kept. By this measure Isaiah Berlin must surely count among the most noteworthy correspondents of the modern era. His letters were sent to, and kept by, people as interesting and highly placed as himself, so that these private communications are also valuable public records, giving a unique perspective on the post-war events in Britain, America, and the wider world. They are full of gossip, of course, and—as in his published writings—Berlin touches on the big questions without always wrestling with them. But they are a pleasure to read and have been edited to a high standard by Berlin’s devoted executor Henry Hardy, with the help of Jennifer Holmes.1 Not a name has gone untraced, nor a reference left incomplete. The...

 

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