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What to expect

‘Brilliantly witty, profoundly illuminating, Alice Sherwood is a master storyteller’ Simon Schama

‘This wise, quirky, funny, wholly original book is an authentic delight. I loved it.’ Tim Harford

‘Alice Sherwood is the real deal’ Marcus Du Sautoy

‘Fascinating and hugely entertaining’ Brian Eno

‘Beautifully written, hugely readable and completely fascinating – a book for smart thinkers everywhere.’ Mary Ann Sieghart, author of The Authority Gap

‘This is a trailblazing book.’ Rory Sutherland

‘Alice Sherwood places ‘authenticity’ in the dock with a series of brilliantly analysed cases. From soft drinks to malaria tablets, Andy Warhol to Yves Saint Laurent, they are unfailingly compelling and often shocking. I found myself instantly absorbed by her formidable storytelling powers and her wry and psychologically penetrating commentaries.’ Philip Mould, presenter of Fake or Fortune?

We live in an age when the pursuit of authenticity – from living our ‘best life’ to eating artisan food – matters more and more to us, but where the forces of inauthenticity seem to be taking over. Our world is full of people and products that are not what they seem. We no longer know whether we are talking to a person or a machine. But we can fight back – and this award-winning book shows us how.

Authenticity argues that, although our counterfeit culture is shaped by the most powerful forces of evolution, economics, and technology, we can still come together to reclaim reality.

Along the way, we meet the world’s greatest impostor, who finally became what he’d pretended to be; the wartime counterfeiter who fooled a nation; nature’s most outrageous deceivers; the artist who encouraged people to forge his pictures; the ‘authentic’ brand that was anything but. But we also meet people living unexpectedly rewarding lives in virtual worlds, and foot soldiers in the ‘armies of truth’ who are taking down today’s conspiracies and cons.

Provocative, insightful and original, Authenticity is that once-in-a-generation revelation: a work rich in histories but supremely and urgently of our own time. You’ll never think about deception and reality in the same way again.

Critics Review

  • Authenticity demonstrates that although those who wish to deceive us sometimes seem to have the upper hand, it’s down to the individual to fight for authenticity.’ Eliot Higgins, author of We Are Bellingcat

    ‘Both thought-provoking and highly entertaining, with extraordinary and intriguing anecdotes’
    Royal Society of Literature Giles St Aubyn Awards

    ‘A persuasive manifesto addressing two very timely issues, … Sherwood’s study takes in an astonishing range of subject matters… This is a profoundly academic book, but … the research is worn so lightly that it reads as easily as a work of popular science… A witty and wide-ranging call to arms that … turns out to be a pleasure’ Literary Review

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