Among the seven essays collected in Russian Thinkers is perhaps Isaiah Berlin's most famous work, "The Hedgehog and the Fox," which begins with an ancient Greek proverb ("The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing") before taking on Leo Tolstoy's philosophy of history, showing how Tolstoy "was by nature a fox, but believed in being a hedgehog." The other half dozen pieces examine other Russian writers and philosophers, including Alexander Herzen, Ivan Turgenev, and Mikhail Bakunin--although the latter, Berlin says, "is not a serious thinker. There are no coherent ideas to be extracted from his writings of any period, only fire and imagination, violence and poetry, and an ungovernable desire for strong sensations." Few, if any, English-language critics have written as perceptibly about Russian thought and culture as the Latvian-born Berlin, and the history covered in Russian Thinkers is a unique elaboration of Berlin's theses concerning the impact of ideas upon culture.
"Isaiah Berlin is an author without whom I could not have written these plays."
-Tom Stoppard, in The Coast of Utopia program --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Excellent book. One can read and re-read these illustrative essays by Dr. Berlin, and never feel overwhelmed. Read morePublished 3 months ago by M. A. Seifter
This book gives me life. Isaiah Berlin, even if you disagree with him, has phenomenal body of work.Published 5 months ago by gp8675
a very good book about Russian thought prior to the Russian revolution. I learned a lot and discovered people I never knew about. Good historic summaryPublished 13 months ago by Frederick Mazie
Berlin writes a comprehensive book on the history of Russian philosophers and authors going back to the 19th century. Read morePublished on August 31, 2012 by William Roden
This is probably the best single collection of Berlin's essays. Berlin wrote a number of notable essays but this collection has a thematic integrity not found in most other... Read morePublished on November 14, 2009 by R. Albin
Actually, I've only skimmed this book, not read it yet. It seemed to be worth five stars, but maybe AFTER I read it, I may revise my opinion. Read morePublished on May 1, 2009 by Jay H. Colborn
In this collection of great essays, Isaiah Berlin examines the development of Russian intelligentsia; the circumstances that surrounded the formation of Russian philosophy and the... Read morePublished on March 24, 2009 by Medusa