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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2018 Michiko Kakutani (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“The Death of Truth is destined to become the defining treatise of our age. Not only does it brilliantly and incisively diagnose the roots of our decaying social and political order; it also shows why we must rescue the truth before it is buried under a regime of lies. Everyone should read this book.” (David Grann)

“Without the truth we will be neither prosperous nor virtuous nor free. This book begins the self-defense of American culture. May it reach a generation that will make narcissism passé and factuality sexy." (Timothy Snyder)

"This is the book I would have written - but only if I had had a brilliant grasp of literature, politics, and history, and the ability to weave them together in a uniquely original way. The Death of Truth goes indelibly to the dark, dark heart of what is ailing our democracy as no recent book has done." (Graydon Carter)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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important points to be aware of

the narrator was a bit more dramatic than I would have preferred for the reading of an essay. But I got over it.

Good discussion of just how serious it is that Trump and his allies are destroying the concept of objective truth. I liked the discussion of the roots of this in postmodernism, although the author also distinguishes early postmodernism from the misuse of its frameworks by the politicians who use relativism to manipulate the population for their own ends.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Prescient Account of the Mechanics of Tyranny

The author organizes and presents the recent history of disinformation practiced by fascists and other autocracies. She shows clearly how Trump and his abettors are a development from that tradition, and makes clear why the nation has diverged into bitterly opposed camps.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Another confusion of truth, lies, and viewpoint

Another writer confuses the postmodern viewpoint approach for a difference of truth and lies. Interrogating history through the lens of multiculturalism did not lead us down the path of relative truth. Learn what propaganda truly means before blaming postmodernism for Fox News.

Three stars because there were things that made me think in the work once I got past the other's blind spots listed above. It's a credit to the performer that I made it all the way through this.

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Very good but depressing and short.

very good read but the topic of how we are sliding into an authoritarian regime is depressing. it kinda reads like a college essay. I wish it would have addressed more about... what can be done? what steps would have stopped the historical fascists cited?

still a good and quick read.

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Everything is possible, nothing is trustworthy

You thought you were fighting an opponent. But you are not. You are not fighting someone who is trying to win, but someone who thrives on chaos and cynicism.

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an excellent analysis of the increasing

irrelevancy of objective facts in modern political discourse. a sad book, but it is accurate.

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  • Michael
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 08-17-18

So truthful

I feel this book is a great chronicle of how miss information has unfortunately infected our political system. To bad the people who really need to read this won’t. Her examples are very easy to verify and no one can accuse Ms Kautani of fabrication.

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simple the truth!

loved it! This books give comparisons that are so spot on its creepy to think about what journey we are on.

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  • Ronald
  • ROCHESTER, NY, United States
  • 08-09-18

Useful but weak in spots

On the plus side--this book provides lots of background. Truth has been ailing for decades. Our current President wasn't the first to first decide on a course of action and then pick and choose the "facts" to support it. This trend is echoed in literature where personal experience and reflection now has higher regard than shared experience (which includes science). The author makes the case that Trump has pushed the regard for truth to new lows.

On the minus side--while many points are backed up with examples and citations, there were cases where the documentation was weak. It is not worse than many other analyses of politics, but when the issue is truth, I was expecting all of the arguments to be iron-clad. The other weakness for me was the proliferation of 25-cent words where 10-cent words were adequate. I heard "post-modernist" and "deconstructionist" too many times.

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Deceptive

I ordered the book based on the title—-big mistake. What’s not included in the title and first sentence is “ in the era of Trump” goes on bash the our president. Just another Trump bashing . Don’t waste your $$$.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful