Rancorous and highly public disagreements between Isaiah Berlin and Isaac Deutscher escalated to the point of cruel betrayal in the mid-1960s, yet surprisingly the details of the episode have escaped historians’ scrutiny. In this gripping account of the ideological clash between two of the most influential scholars of Cold War politics, David Caute uncovers a hidden story of passionate beliefs, unresolved antagonism, and the high cost of reprisal to both victim and perpetrator.
Though Deutscher (1907–1967) and Berlin (1909–1997) had much in common—each arrived in England in flight from totalitarian violence, quickly mastered English, and found entry into the Anglo-American intellectual world of the 1950s—Berlin became one of the presiding voices of Anglo-American liberalism, while Deutscher remained faithful to his Leninist heritage, resolutely defending Soviet conduct despite his rejection of Stalin’s tyranny. Caute combines vivid biographical detail with an acute analysis of the issues that divided these two icons of Cold War politics, and brings to light for the first time the full severity of Berlin’s action against Deutscher.
'Incredibly well-informed and immensely readable - a book that will be argued over for years to come.' - Jonathan Haslam, author of Russia's Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall
'A wonderful Cold War parable in which both protagonists, Berlin and Deutscher, the liberal and the Marxist, reveal just how crooked the timber of humanity can be, especially when ideas collide with events. Caute metes out morality and mitigation in equal measure - a rare and wise combination.' - Petre Mandler, author of Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War
“Readers . . . will find themselves informed and absorbed by Mr. Caute's portrait of the intellectual battles of the Cold War.”—Adam Kirsch, Wall Street Journal~Adam Kirsch, Wall Street Journal
“What could have been a minor academic squabble is transformed here into a wide-ranging discussion of some of the major ideological disputes of the 20th century – Marxism, Zionism, liberalism and the significance of the Russian revolution.”—The Economist ~The Economist
“Trenchant, engaging . . . sharply argued . . . The author’s wit and biting analysis render this a most readable study.”—Kirkus Reviews~Kirkus Reviews
“A riveting account . . . of an intellectual feud for the ages.”—David Mikics, Los Angeles Review of Books~David Mikics, Los Angeles Review of Books
“The book I most enjoyed was David Caute’s Isaac and Isaiah. Caute transforms an academic squabble between Isaiah Berlin and Isaac Deutscher into a wide-ranging analysis of the ideological disputes of the 20th century – Marxism, the significance of the Russian revolution, liberalism and Zionism.”—Vernon Bogdanor, THES, Book of the Year~Vernon Bogdanor, Times Higher Education Supplement