Good clues for detecting lies but better insights into human nature.



The latest from the veteran psychotherapist and author of Get Anyone To Do Anything and Never Be Lied to Again.

Readers will perk up at Lieberman’s claim to offer “near-telepathic” techniques to reveal what people think and detect lies. “You will be privy to what lies deep in their subconscious mind,” he writes, “even when they themselves may be in denial and unwilling (or unable) to confront their thoughts, feelings, and fears on a conscious level.” The author is well versed in the latest advances in psycholinguistics and neurophysiology, but no mind reading miracles appear. Nonetheless, Lieberman is a fine writer, so readers searching for sensible clues that someone might be deceiving them will receive a solid education along with sporadic warnings not to rely on a single tactic. Despite a deep understanding of human psychology and the occasional caution, Lieberman hints but never stresses that no perfect lie detector (human or electronic) exists—not even one that is 95% effective. The best human lie detectors—interrogation experts with the police, military, CIA, FBI, etc.—regularly indict innocent suspects, and criminology gurus who proclaim techniques for ferreting out the guilty are almost always debunked. Near the halfway point of the text, Lieberman changes course, eschewing clues for winning at poker in favor of an excellent primer on healthy versus pathological human behavior. Perhaps most intriguing is the author’s explanation of the contrast between self-esteem and egotism, qualities that seem similar but are inversely related. Individuals with self-esteem like themselves, so they don’t require respect from others to feel worthy. As self-esteem declines, egotism assumes power to defend against a presumably hostile world—or at least to make excuses. Egotists seem powerful, but the opposite is true: “It’s the insecure person who has to tell us how confident he is—because that’s the only way we’re going to find out.”

Good clues for detecting lies but better insights into human nature.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-23618-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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