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What is a lie? What does a lie consist of? Are lies good, bad, or neutral? Why do people constantly tell each other and themselves lies? The Art of Lying is a book written by Kazuo Sakai, Nakana Ide, and translated by Sara Aoyama, that addresses all of these, and many more aspects of lying. Sakai and Ide are renowned Japanese psychiatrists that are known for their mediating skills. The initial purpose of this book, as described by the translator, was to provide the common Japanese reader with a possible means to live a "graceful" and "comfortable" life by discovering and coping with the many facets of lying. In this book are eight chapters that each address different "kind" of lie, an explanation of why people tell certain lies, and even how to lie more effectively. The topics covered include:

  • Why Do People Lie?
  • Try Telling a Lie to Yourself
  • Lies Make a Woman More Beautiful
  • Lies to Help a Man Succeed
  • Lies Make the World Go Round
  • After You Transcend a Lie, You Can See the Truth
  • Lies Keep Our Society Going
  • How to Lie Well - Lies That Work and Lies That Don't

The last chapter of the book ("How to Lie Well...") is undoubtedly the most interesting of the chapters, as it provides instructions on how to lie to the best of your ability in certain situations. Among the included situations are: "lying about your age," "telephone lies," and "lies to tell at the golf course." However, I found that some of the advice included in the examples was skewed by the fact that they were all, understandably given from a Japanese perspective.

What stands out most about this handbook to lying is the obvious cultural difference between "Japanese psychology" and "American psychology", or rather the difference in the psychological development of the natives of the two countries. As I said before, as an American reader, I found it hard to understand some of the more culturally specific examples cited in the book. Overall though, I thought that this was an interesting, albeit short (218 pages) read, that, more than anything, offered a glimpse into modern Japanese culture and society.

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