The Lies That Bind

Rethinking Identity

Kwame Anthony Appiah (Author, Princeton University)

Logo markA Liveright book

 

From the best-selling author of Cosmopolitanism comes this revealing exploration of how the collective identities that shape our polarized world are riddled with contradiction.

We all know how identities—notably, those of nationality, class, culture, race, and religion—are at the root of global conflict, but the more elusive truth is that these identities are created by conflict in the first place. In provocative, entertaining chapters, Kwame Anthony Appiah interweaves keen-edged argument with engrossing historical tales—from Anton Wilhelm Amo, the eighteenth-century African child who became an eminent European academic, to Italo Svevo, the literary genius who changed countries without leaving home—and reveals the tangled contradictions within the stories that define us. The concept of the sovereign nation, Appiah shows us, is incoherent. Our everyday notions of race are the detritus of discarded science; the very idea of Western culture is a shimmering mirage. These beliefs, and more, are crafted from confusions—confusions Appiah sorts through to imagine a more hopeful future. An arresting argument from one of our leading philosophers, The Lies That Bind will transform the way we think.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • Forthcoming August 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-63149-383-6
  • 6.1 × 9.3 in / 256 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth and the European Union.

Endorsements & Reviews

The Lies that Bind is a small volume of mighty power. In his lucid prose, Appiah elegantly dismantles the humbug, dogma, pseudo-science and propaganda that have long dogged our attempts to discuss 'identity,' and offers in their place a practical and philosophical tool-kit, as subtly radical in its aims as it is humane in application. From the illusions of 19th century ideas of biological destiny, to the late-capitalist logic of our contemporary 'cultural appropriation' debates, this book will help a lot of people think with far more clarity about some of the thorniest issues of our times. An inspiring and essential read.” — Zadie Smith, author of Swing Time and Changing My Mind

“Through this meditative journey, Appiah calls on us to buckle down to the difficult task of living with complexity—that is, the task of being modern. Erudite, personal, timely and deeply humane, this is a book for our time.” — Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land, a National Book Award finalist

“Not only does that elegant writer and transcendent thinker, Anthony Appiah, clarify the historical gaslighting around color and racial stereotype, he also forges radical new theories of identity as they apply to almost every conceivable aspect of self. The Lies That Bind forces you to rethink what tribe you actually belong to with regard to race and religion, geography and gender, class and sexuality. Sheer genius and a joy to read.” — Mary Karr, author of The Art of Memoir

“Appiah makes the controversial and difficult subject of identity lucid, edifying, and even fun. When it comes to the humane values that allow us to live with one another, he may be our most penetrating—and entertaining—major philosopher.” — Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal

“This wonderful book unravels a tapestry of suppositions about identity. Understanding what draws us together and what tears us apart lies at the core of democracy. This is a vital book, an antidote to violent nativism, and a key to success in the human experiment.” — Louise Erdrich, author of LaRose

“The terrible power of bad ideas is best resisted, as The Lies That Bind shows, by subjecting them to serious critical scrutiny. Identities central to contemporary cultures can be both historically grounded and utterly misconceived. There is so much to learn from Anthony Appiah's splendid book.” — Amartya Sen, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

Also by Kwame Anthony Appiah All

  1. Book CoverCosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers

    Paperback

  2. Book CoverThe Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen

    Paperback