The Death of Truth

Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

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.

©2018 Michiko Kakutani (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Kakutani has written the first great book of the Trump administration. The Death of Truth is a fiery polemic against the president and should go down as essential reading. In nine exquisitely crafted broadsides, the Pulitzer winner calls upon her vast knowledge of literature, philosophy, and politics to serve up a damning state of the union.”(Rolling Stone)

“Dazzling.... Kakutani’s slender, fiery new book...could have been written only by someone who reads more, and retains more, than most mere mortals.” (Time

“A pointed and penetrating book.... The Death of Truth offers a clear-eyed, eloquent assessment of the current predicament.... This book is essential for understanding the corrosive effects of an ongoing, relentless assault on truth.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

Editorial Review

Parsing fact from fiction

I started listening Carlo Rovelli's book The Order of Time narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch (because who wouldn't listen to that?!) and it was lovely and poetic, but I had to put it down because he was arguing that time isn't absolute. Apparently time moves faster at higher altitudes, so if one twin brother lives on a mountain and another on a plain, the mountain brother ages faster...and then my head exploded. It seems I'm both fascinated and horrified by relativism, so this brilliant book-length essay from Michiko Kakutani helped me recalibrate after my adventure into physics. The former chief book critic at The New York Times deals with her subject deftly: how do we hold onto facts and the idea of absolute truth in a land that seems to be built on the shifting sands of narrative creation? It turns out a literary critic is the perfect person to parse fact from fiction and give us a whopping lesson in how storytelling works in the process. —Emily C., Audible Editor

What listeners say about The Death of Truth

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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.

4 people found this 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.

7 people found this helpful

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Biased and Hypocritical

There were good points mentioned but unfortunately the author is what she disparaged others about that oppose her views. The POTUS hatred and disdain for any and all Republicans is blanket discrimination in full bloom. It is sad this intellectual author is unable to separate her emotions from her work. Bottom line, Hate President Trump, Republicans bad and are mindless drones, and Democrats are good, perfect, have committed nothing wrong, and has never used the same political rhetoric and tactics presented.



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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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scary honesty

wonderful book written with a lot of spot on Research and clarity about how truth has been replaced with hype

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What is true?

Not to ground this book on a clear exposition of what the author considers the foundation for determining what is true & what is not is s glaring omission & significantly weakens the entire premise of the book. Some references to research, facts, scientific evidence are there, but pretty sure the foundation is fairly flimsy because the analysis of the problem of "the death of truth" is confusing & logically inconsistent in many places.

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Should be required reading

This is an important book, perhaps one of the most important in the age of Trump. While Ms Kakutani is at times too partisan the message is much larger and more frightening.

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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.

1 person found this helpful