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4.2 out of 5 stars
Lying
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2012
Generally speaking I am a big fan of Sam Harris and admire and like his work.

This particular piece, however I found it a little disappointing that, having teased us with difficult examples at the beginning of the piece, he fails to answer them in the ensuing text.

The SS officer at door of the protectors of Anne Frank is an excellent example. What would have been a correct answer to the inquiry? The suggested "I wouldn't tell you if I knew" would surely have won tthe respondant a bullet in the brain and a search of his premises over his corpse.

As to it never being OK for a state to lie to its people I would have taken an analysis of Churchill's decision to "lie" to the people about the foreknowledge that the Germans were just about to bomb Coventry in order to keep the secret that the enigma code had been broken rather more convincing than the rather simplistic assertion that it is just never OK.

The failure of the piece to address the really Difficult issue consigns it to the 'interesting yet ultimately unconvincing' category rather than the 'compelling category IMHO
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2011
Being a bit of a fan of Sam Harris, I had to buy this, and I'm even more so glad of it than the End of Faith. It is a short, and easy to read, essay, which reveals the positive (albeit hard) side of not lying. Revealing, in a few examples how it can make us all better, and sure, it would damage some relationships, but allows us to consider whether they are relationships worth sustaining?
In that way, it is about not only not lying to the people around us, but, in turn, about being truthful to and about ourselves.

A fascinating read, that people of any or no faith can read and (hopefully) take something from.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2015
This essay is well written and erudite, but it doesn't tell the reader much more than they should already have surmised. We lie a lot, mostly about nothing too important with the odd whopper thrown in. Generally speaking, lying is bad. Where the essay illuminates is how the white lies can also have serious consequences - it's quite hard to summarise just how enlightening Harris' (very little) book can be.

The second half of the essay really just expands on the first, and loses impetus.

Only half the slim volume is the essay, the rest being an interview with the man who inspired Harris to lead a lie-free life. This man seems oblivious to the reality that he's actually lying to himself a lot. Apparently evading and being economical with the truth is still way preferable to telling a white lie, and has convinced himself that these are a form of deception too. This kind of undermines the whole argument and disappointed me significantly. Having said that, there's still something to take away here - just don't pay full price for what amounts to to 25 or 20 useful pages.

Recommended if you really want to think about things instead of being clubbed over the head, Hitchens-style. I do feel my perspective has genuinely been altered by this essay.

7 / 10

David Brookes
Author of 'Half Discovered Wings' and 'The Gun of Our Maker'
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2012
I enjoyed this long essay and read it in an hour. It's a single argument, logically laid out, well backed-up and persuasive. Its short length does make it feel a little shallow, though. It's reads like a taster of a longer, deeper exploration to come. Cheap though!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2011
Read the essay and enjoyed it very much, I try to be as honest as I possibly can but this short read has given me cause for a little introspection and the boost to go that extra mile. I'm sure I'll benefit from it greatly.

Sam boasts a clarity that few people could ever hope to achieve but for which we should all strive.
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on 30 May 2014
I really enjoyed the book. We all tell lies to some extent and I think many of the situations discussed in the book were thought provoking for me. When my mother was dying of a brain tumour I did help paint rosier picture thank I should have, I now realise with that wonderful thing of hindsight I probably shouldn't have done. We could have probably had so many more important conversations than we did. Even so, it clear with some of the scenarios painted by previous readers, Mr Harris did struggle with convincing me truth is always best, particularly when dealing with other cultures that do not hold honesty in as high a regard as we might.

I think if you are someone who is in the habit of regularly telling lies, this is probably a book you should read and use to explore yourself more deeply and hopefully make a real commitment to honesty in the future. X
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on 14 January 2014
I am usually a fan of Harris and his work on free will has been really influential for me. I found it very insightful and it expanded how I thought about free will. Therefore, I expected quite a lot from this book but I have to say I was disappointed after reading it. First of all, the book can be read in half an hour, there is not much content to it and what little there is is just basically telling you you shouldn't lie - in reasoning why it lacks the sort of insights Harris has reached in his other work. If you are looking for something intellectually stimulating, look elsewhere. If you haven't read Harris' work on free will please do but this one I'd recommend you give a miss.

I didn't read any of the other reviews and I will read them with interest after posting this.
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on 9 November 2012
My partner recommended this book months ago after he stumbled across it, whilst it featured in my wish list, it was one of those books you 'never get round to buying.'
However, I purchased the book after a final reminder from him and just...WOW!! This book should be read by everyone, it's a book that everyone at some point in their life can relate to.
It is a powerful account of all the lies we are told or lies we choose to tell day to day. Before reading this book, I would have considered myself an honest individual, after reading this book, I reconsidered!! This book highlights the un-typical types of traps we fall into which create a minefield of lies.
A brilliant read that could only serve as an insight to all.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2011
This is a well conscructed and thought provoking essay which makes you consider the consequences of lying - even; though meant for the best of intentions of course, those innocent "little white lies" that we are all capable of telling.

By its end I found that I had to reconsider most of the reasons for lying that I held to be patently true and the impact that it can have on others.

For such a compact little thing, this is packed with common sense and is a very good read.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2011
Once more Sam Harris lays the truth bare in a way which affirms enlightenment values.

In this concise and readable essay, Harris definitively makes the moral and practical case for telling the truth in virtually all situations, and the way in which this improves human relations and has a purifying effect on how complicated and anxious life is.

I hope Sam Harris writes more like this and no one should hesitate to hit the download button!
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