Reviews for The Death Of Truth

by Michiko Kakutani

Publishers Weekly
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Honest, factual debate is expiring at the hands of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, according to this overwrought jeremiad. Kakutani, the Pulitzer-winning former New York Times book critic, presents a dire view of discourse in a world of fakery and fanaticism: scientific expertise on topics like climate change gets attacked as self-interested baloney; Russian disinformation operations churn out fake news that induces public confusion and sways elections; President Trump lies continually-5.9 times per day, Kakutani specifies-with impunity; America and the world are divided into warring tribes in ideological bubbles impermeable to objective data or civilized discussion. Kakutani blames not just the populist right but the postmodern, literary theory of the academic left-formerly subversive critical stances that, she argues, have bequeathed a nihilistic rejection of reason and Enlightenment values. Citing writers including Hannah Arendt, George Orwell, and David Foster Wallace, Kakutani offers a sophisticated, wide-ranging exploration of theories of propaganda and debased speech and their insidious effects. 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. (July) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.