Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Liar's Tale, by Jeremy Campbell

The title of this book is a bit of a novelty. You imagine a bunch of publisher's thinking, This will surely titillate the public, or we can shift a lot of these as gift ideas at Christmas. Oh, I know that sounds terribly cynical, but it's the impression I get. This book is not really a history of lieing - it would probably be a more interesting book if it truly were. How fascinating it might be to see history's greatest and most successful liars ply their trade.

Instead, this book is more of a summary of various philosophers and their ideas and meditations on the notion of truth. It's well written, and the author clearly has a good understanding of the writers he discusses. Yet for all that, these digests of famous writers leave you with an incomplete feeling. You always feel like you're cheating on Nietzche and Aristotle by not reading their actual works. You shouldn't be relying on someone else's scholarhip.

Holiday readers might find this book of some use; serious readers should steer clear...

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