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The Death of Truth : Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump
by Michiko Kakutani




Overview -
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES Editors' Choice

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic comes an impassioned critique of America's retreat from reason

We live in a time when the very idea of objective truth is mocked and discounted by the occupants of the White House. Discredited conspiracy theories and ideologies have resurfaced, proven science is once more up for debate, and Russian propaganda floods our screens. The wisdom of the crowd has usurped research and expertise, and we are each left clinging to the beliefs that best confirm our biases.

How did truth become an endangered species in contemporary America? This decline began decades ago, and in The Death of Truth, former New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani takes a penetrating look at the cultural forces that contributed to this gathering storm. In social media and literature, television, academia, and politics, Kakutani identifies the trends--originating on both the right and the left--that have combined to elevate subjectivity over factuality, science, and common values. And she returns us to the words of the great critics of authoritarianism, writers like George Orwell and Hannah Arendt, whose work is newly and eerily relevant.

With remarkable erudition and insight, Kakutani offers a provocative diagnosis of our current condition and points toward a new path for our truth-challenged times.

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More About The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani

 
 
 

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES Editors' Choice

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic comes an impassioned critique of America's retreat from reason

We live in a time when the very idea of objective truth is mocked and discounted by the occupants of the White House. Discredited conspiracy theories and ideologies have resurfaced, proven science is once more up for debate, and Russian propaganda floods our screens. The wisdom of the crowd has usurped research and expertise, and we are each left clinging to the beliefs that best confirm our biases.

How did truth become an endangered species in contemporary America? This decline began decades ago, and in The Death of Truth, former New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani takes a penetrating look at the cultural forces that contributed to this gathering storm. In social media and literature, television, academia, and politics, Kakutani identifies the trends--originating on both the right and the left--that have combined to elevate subjectivity over factuality, science, and common values. And she returns us to the words of the great critics of authoritarianism, writers like George Orwell and Hannah Arendt, whose work is newly and eerily relevant.

With remarkable erudition and insight, Kakutani offers a provocative diagnosis of our current condition and points toward a new path for our truth-challenged times.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525574828
  • ISBN-10: 0525574824
  • Publisher: Tim Duggan Books
  • Publish Date: July 2018
  • Page Count: 208
  • Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.65 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

An acclaimed critic cuts through the noise

When Michiko Kakutani ended her tenure of nearly 35 years as a Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic with the New York Times in July 2017, she announced her intention to “focus on longer pieces about politics and culture.” If The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump, her fiery takedown of the culture of lies personified by the presidency of Donald Trump is any indication, her voice soon may become as influential in the world of politics as it was in literary culture.

Kakutani covers ground that will be painfully familiar to regular readers of her former paper or the Washington Post. Unlike conventional political commentators, however, she digs deeper to seek out the “roots of falsehood in the Trump era.” It’s here that her immersion in literature provides a fresh perspective on our current dilemma: Kakutani lays some portion of the blame on postmodernism, with its “philosophical repudiation of objectivity,” expressed most clearly in the work of Jacques Derrida and other deconstructionists, who posited that there was “no such thing as truth.”

Though Trump likely isn’t familiar with these literary theories, Kakutani argues that, in coining terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts,” his allies are cynically employing the same notion of subjectivity to advance their political agenda. Aided by the right-wing media and highly effective Russian internet trolls, they’ve capitalized on America’s increasing tribalism and skepticism of traditional sources of expertise, employing “language as a tool to disseminate distrust and discord.”

As she envisions the inevitable post-Trump era, Kakutani is not optimistic. If there’s any hope of recovering from this relentless onslaught of falsehood, it will only come about through the efforts of an engaged citizenry, insistent on respect for our institutions and, above all, for the truth. Some of the critical information to fuel that engagement can be found in these pages.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 

BAM Customer Reviews