BIG LIES: From Socrates to Social Media

Tilbury House. Oct. 2022. 320p. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9780884489122.
Gr 7 Up–Kurlansky outlines the history of lying in this informative and compelling introduction to the topic, specifically focusing on the lies of governments, politicians, and corporations with a political agenda. He opens with a general introduction to lying: personal and public, intentional or not, as well as various reasons for lying and its acceptability. Particularly interesting is the discussion of the principles of the Enlightenment, how they influenced the U.S. Constitution, and how the aristocracy and state-supported religions made anti-Enlightenment arguments to remain in power. Subsequent chapters cover a wide variety of history including science denial, lies against women and religious groups, the Soviet Union’s extreme use of lying, and lies of the U.S. government. Later chapters cover topics such as the manipulation of photographs. In all of these chapters, historical as well as modern examples are covered demonstrating that lying is nothing new, just the methods and speed of spreading them change. The final chapter gives readers techniques for detecting lies and ways to check the veracity of online statements. The engaging text will keep pages turning quickly along with breaks that highlight important statements using an extra-large eye-catching font, related pictures, humorous comic strips, and sidebars with interesting stories. The work is well-documented with extensive sources and an index.
VERDICT Kurlansky advises readers “It would not be acceptable to call everyone a liar, but it is wise to question everything you are told.” Libraries would be equally wise to purchase and recommend to middle and high school students.

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