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The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump (2018)

by Michiko Kakutani

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4501855,660 (3.76)15
Essays. Politics. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML: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 trendsâ??originating on both the right and the leftâ??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
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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Perfectly well written, and I agreed with most of what she said, but I didn’t really need to read a book about how awful our president and his buddies are. I didn’t see any special insight about the problems we are having, although I did appreciate her tearing into postmodernism as being weirdly influential with the Trumpists. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Kakutani, Michiko. The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump. HarperCollins, 2018.
In The Death of Truth, Michiko Kakutani, longtime book reviewer for the New York Times, ties the undermining of political discourse by Donald Trump and his minions to a longstanding assault on rationality in American culture. Kakutani traces the loss of faith in reason in our politics to the culture wars championed on the right, but also connects it with the postmodern subjectivism of such leftwing culture critics as Jacques Derrida that and inspired a general loss of faith in official American narratives and institutions in the post-Vietnam era. Kakutani agrees with George Orwell that “political chaos is connected with the decay of language” that divorces words from meaning. We have, she says, indeed entered an era of Newspeak that keeps us all in our information silos. Newspeak is exacerbated by the information overload and fragmenting of public attention made worse by new information technologies. She concludes that our democracy needs a new commitment to truth and reason, however difficult that may be to achieve. The book’s tone is too polemical for my taste, but its argument seems sound. 4 stars. ( )
  Tom-e | May 5, 2022 |
The Death of Truth:Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump by Michiko Kakutani should be declared the book of the year for 2018. This brief book, just 173 pages not counting notes and bibliography, thoroughly examines the ways truth and reality has been attacked and subverted. George Orwell warned of a world where brutal dictators would control every aspect of lives including truth and knowledge. But Huxley in Brave New World gave another view of a world where people were controlled by too much information and the lost ability to tell what was true and important and what was not. Kakutani looks at Donald Trump's dishonesty but also at the liars of the 20th century, particularly Hitler and Lenin. A disturbing read, but vitally important. Truth and reality are important. If we live surrounded by lies were are lost. Please read this book. If you don't have time or inclination then at least pick it up and read the short epilogue pages 165 to 173. ( )
  MMc009 | Jan 30, 2022 |
This book had some intriguing explanations on the rise of anger and Trump ion America. An indepth description of how Russian trolls have influenced America. This with the help of Facebook. After all, social media keeps track of what we click on. Then it gives us more of the same to engage us (to sell advertising). The more emotionally charged, the longer we spend on those sights.

Though it focuses on Trump, everyone should keep an open mind about how our country has been divided and how the Russian trolls work to keep us that way. ( )
  Thomas.Cannon | Dec 7, 2021 |
Certainly not the best book on the subject of Trump's presidential corruption, but a general history featuring a myriad of sources compiled together to form what is basically a long article. My biggest issue with this book was the way in which the author decided to write it, using these sources almost stapled together to form a book, when in reality it's a series of quotes and examples without much of an original narrative. It almost reads like a Wikipedia article, and that tends to detract from the book as it feels like the author doesn't have that much to say about it herself. Better books about the history of Trump's corruption exist, but for what it is, essentially an article in book form, it serves best as a collection of quotes and sources rather than a book itself. Informative and to the point. ( )
  TMLbuds34 | Aug 13, 2021 |
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Essays. Politics. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML: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 trendsâ??originating on both the right and the leftâ??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

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