The Death of Truth: Book summary and reviews of The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani

The Death of Truth

Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump

by Michiko Kakutani

The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani X
The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani

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Book 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"...Unfortunately, she takes her critique to extremes, likening Trump to Hitler, Lenin, and Mussolini, conjuring omnipotent conspiracies of Kremlin-backed tweeters, and spying totalitarian portents everywhere. Like much anti-Trump ire, Kakutani's polemic trades in the same histrionics that it deplores." - Publishers Weekly

"A stark sermon to the choir that urges each member to sin - loudly and ceaselessly." - Kirkus

"When she left her position as chief book critic of the New York Times after nearly four decades, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Kakutani professed an interest in focusing on culture and politics. Here she follows through, investigating fake news, relativism, and the assumption that all opinions are equally valid to show that today the concept of truth is being demeaned." - Library Journal

"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

"Kakutani's The Death of Truth is politically urgent and intellectually dazzling. She deftly goes behind the daily headlines to reveal the larger forces threatening democracy at home in America, and elsewhere around the globe. The result is a brilliant and fascinating call-to-arms that anyone who cares about democracy ought to read immediately." - Jane Mayer

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Author Information

Michiko Kakutani

Michiko Kakutani is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and the former chief book critic of The New York Times.

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