The Best 19 Books to Read This August
A memoir that serves up the troubled family history behind an iconic American dessert; crime fiction force Laura Lippman's roundup of her favorite new thrillers; 10 titles to pick up now, including two comedies set in Russia; and more.
8 of 19
The Death of Truth
Tim Duggan Books
During her nearly 40-year career at The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani, the paper's Pulitzer Prize–winning former chief book critic, earned a fearsome reputation for toughness. Author Nicholson Baker once compared a thumbs-down from her to "having my liver taken out without anesthesia." The surgical metaphor is apt; Kakutani's take, whether yea or nay, was always penetrating and precise. Now the reviewer employs the same incisiveness in her own book, The Death of Truth (Tim Duggan). A compact yet expansive treatise on political disinformation, it dissects the current administration's dubious relationship with facts and "preference for loyalty and ideological lockstep over knowledge." But Death dazzles most when Kakutani gleans lessons from literature to comprehend our times. Works as disparate as 1984 and Fates and Furies illuminate the blurred line between what's real and made-up. Like characters from a Pynchon novel, Kakutani notes, we may suffer from "spiritual vertigo" amid the information overload—which makes this clear-eyed exegesis all the more invaluable.
— Michelle Hart