Published on July 16, 2012

A cultural and intellectual history of sincerity, from its emergence during the Protestant Reformation to its present incarnations and adversaries.

People have long been duped by “straight talking” politicians, confessional talk-show hosts, and fake-earnest advertisers. As sincerity has become suspect, the upright and honest have taken refuge in irony. Yet our struggle for authenticity in back-to-the-woods movements, folksy songwriting, and a continued craving for sincere presidential candidates betrays our lingering longing for the holy grail of sincerity.

One of the Wall Street Journal’s top ten nonfiction books of 2012
A New York Times Editors’ Choice

Chic Ironic Bitterness

Released September 12, 2007

A brilliant and timely reflection on irony in contemporary American culture.

The events of 9/11 had many pundits on the left and right scrambling to declare an end to the Age of Irony. But six years on, we’re as ironic as ever. From the Simpsons and Borat to the The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, the ironic worldview measures out a certain cosmopolitan distance, keeping hypocrisy and threats to personal integrity at bay.