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The Lies That Bind


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A new theory of identity that embraces a hybrid model of identification, radically different to traditional organising structures

About the Author

Kwame Anthony Appiah is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University and has been President of the PEN American Center. Grandson of a British Chancellor of the Exchequer and nephew of a Ghanaian king, he spent his childhood in both countries, before studying Philosophy at Cambridge University. He is author of seminal works on philosophy and culture, including In My Father's House, The Honor Code and the prize-winning Cosmopolitanism. He is chair of the judges for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. He lives with his husband in New York and New Jersey.


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
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
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
Praise for Cosmopolitanism Wonderfully perceptive and levelheaded * New Republic *
Elegantly provocative. * New York Times *
Praise for The Honor Code Fascinating, erudite and beautifully written. * The New York Times Book Review *
Praise for In My Father's House Montaigne invented the modern essay ... Appiah has the brilliance to extend it. * Village Voice *
Appiah's essays are exquisitely and painstakingly argued. * Washington Post Book World *
this entertaining, meandering journey * Economist *
The Lies That Bind is a wise and erudite introduction to this most vexed of subjects. -- Houman Barekat * Irish Times *
There is barely a word in his book I don't agree with -- Afua Hirsch * Observer *
If you are going to read only one book on identity this year, Appiah's is the one * The Guardian *
A topical study, particularly given today's societal divisions in the US and UK. * The Tablet *

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