What We Are Reading Today: The Power of Ideas by Isaiah Berlin

Updated 30 August 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Power of Ideas by Isaiah Berlin

  • The book exhibits the full range of his enormously wide expertise and demonstrates the striking and enormously engaging individuality

The essays collected in this new volume reveal Isaiah Berlin at his most lucid and accessible. He was constitutionally incapable of writing with the opacity of the specialist, but these shorter, more introductory pieces provide the perfect starting-point for the reader new to his work. Those who are already familiar with his writing will also be grateful for this further addition to his collected essays.

The connecting theme of these essays, as in the case of earlier volumes, is the crucial social and political role —past, present and future — of ideas, and of their progenitors. A rich variety of subject-matters is represented — from philosophy to education, from Russia to Israel, from Marxism to romanticism — so that the truth of Heine’s warning is exemplified on a broad front. It is a warning that Berlin often referred to, and provides an answer to those who ask, as from time to time they do, why intellectual history matters.

Among the contributions are “My Intellectual Path,” Berlin’s last essay, a retrospective autobiographical survey of his main preoccupations. and “Jewish Slavery and Emancipation,” the classic statement of his Zionist views, long unavailable in print. His other subjects include the Enlightenment, Giambattista Vico, Vissarion Belinsky, Alexander Herzen, G.V. Plekhanov, the Russian intelligentsia, the idea of liberty, political realism, nationalism, and historicism. The book exhibits the full range of his enormously wide expertise and demonstrates the striking and enormously engaging individuality, as well as the power, of his own ideas.

“Over a hundred years ago, the German poet Heine warned the French not to underestimate the power of ideas: philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor’s study could destroy a civilization.”--Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, 1958.


What We Are Reading Today: Jeanine Basinger

Updated 18 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Jeanine Basinger

Author: Jeanine Basinger

Irresistible and authoritative, The Movie Musical! is an in-depth look at the singing, dancing, happy-making world of Hollywood musicals, beautifully illustrated in color and black and white.
“This is an essential text for anyone who’s ever laughed, cried, or sung along at the movies,” said a review in goodreads.com.
“This is an extensive, hugely in-depth exploration of the Hollywood movie musical spanning from its iterations at the birth of the sound era to the decades that many people saw it’s death, low-level popularity and then eventually, re-birth in the 20th century,” the review added.
Author Jeanine Basinger has appeared in several movie-related documentaries and completed audio commentaries about a dozen classic films.
She is a film historian, professor of Film Studies at Wesleyan University and curator and founder of The Cinema Archives at Wesleyan University. In addition, she is a trustee emeritus of the American Film Institute anda member of the steering committee of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation.