A BRIEF HISTORY OF LIES:
The Most Brilliant Book Ever Written!
By Daniel Nanavati
106 pp. CreateSpace $8
I expected A Brief History of Lies to be whimsical, and it is—and funny, too, with delightful British humor. But it’s also, philosophical and … surprisingly wise. If it appears simple at first glance, that’s deceptive.
Nanavati lives in Cornwall, UK, where he writes children’s books, novels, plays, film scripts, and poetry. Impressive! I find all that hard to believe, but would an author who writes about liars, lie on his own book cover? Probably not.
Nanavati astutely assesses the lies we tell and why. Yes, we, as in you, too. If you say you don’t lie, you’re lying to yourself. We all lie to ourselves, says Nanavati. If you’re honest, you’ll acknowledge that you lie—many times daily, even to those we love most. And sometimes we want to be lied to, as well.
The book provides a lengthy list of the various types of lies, which are legion. You’ll recognize them all, and that you’ve committed most. I’ve committed all but perjury, pathological and vindictive lies … well, possibly a vindictive lie once in childhood.
The book is about politicians and lies, lovers and lies, kids learning to lie, lies told in war and business—of which Nanavati says, “Without lying there would be no war and business would always be good. Business is war without the bloodshed…” Nanavati makes no judgment toward us lying humans—it’s evolutionary, he says. Survival based.
His list of behaviors of liars is telling. Have you noticed someone “mirroring” your words to answer your question? Be suspicious.
“Did you eat the last cookie?”
“No, I did not eat the last cookie.”
I’d love to quote examples of Nanvati’s take on human nature and the rationale he gives for lying—especially the politicians—but they’d suffer out of the larger context. You’ll enjoy it better following Nanavati’s irreverent, satirical, logical, thought-provoking, albeit homespun path on your own. (Reviewed by Ruth Douillette)