Isaiah Berlin once opined that Washington is not a city: "It's more like a vast, temporary headquarters during a campaign. . . . Washington is a bivouac."

After three years in the Washington bivouac, rumpled, tubby, articulate Isaiah Berlin had left the British Embassy staff last week and gone home to London. As one of the Embassy's First Secretaries, he had for a time contributed more than any other one person to official British knowledge of the current U.S.

Dark-skinned, raven-haired Berlin's main job was to compile weekly reports on the U.S. scene, which he accumulated in part in an interminable...

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