"This is a book that adds sincerity to the list of modern qualities worth serious attention, offering nuanced definitions and a solid connection between past causation and current manifestations. It casts new light on modern art broadly construed, amplifying some of the key interactions and tensions between popular arts and the wider society." (Peter N. Stearns, Provost, George Mason University, in The American Interest)"Energetic...well-researched...Magill proves most lively as he brings the reader up to date; his Hipster Semiotic Appendix demonstrates his acuity and sense of humor." (Publishers Weekly)"A sophisticated meditation...a rewarding read...[Magill writes with] scholarliness, humor, and humanity....Two recently deceased men who knew about sincerity and silliness, Christopher Hitchens and Maurice Sendak, would approve of the whole enterprise....Anti-intellectuals need not apply." (Library Journal)"An illumination of the shifting attitudes and ambivalence toward a value that society claims to hold in high esteem....Sincerity proves to be a richer topic than readers might initially suspect." (Kirkus Reviews)"A charming and thought-provoking account of the concept
[of sincerity], from its theological origins to its (more contested) role in contemporary culture....Magill's analysis is provocative and penetrating." (Glenn C. Altschuler, The Oregonian)
is a serious and engaging cultural history painted on an admirably large canvas, yet Magill is careful not to take himself too seriously, as evidenced in his snarky asides and chatty footnotes. He wraps up on an eminently reasonable note: society needs both sincerity and insincerity. You can’t go too far in either direction: neither the frothy superficiality of court society nor the deadly purposefulness of the French Revolution. Who can argue with that?” (Laura Kipnis - New York Times Book Review)
“Fascinating. . . . Mr. Magill’s range is extraordinary, and his wit, erudition and powers of observation give credence to [his] judgments.” (Daniel Akst - Wall Street Journal)
“Intriguing. . . . Magill agilely traces his subject through the ages.” (Rachel Shteir - New Republic)
About the Author
R. Jay Magill, Jr. is an independent scholar living in Berlin, where he works for the American Academy as a writer and editor, as well as a host of a radio program on NPR Worldwide. He is the author of Chic Ironic Bitterness, published in 2007, and from 1999-2005 was an editor, staff writer, and then Executive Editor of the National Magazine Award winning DoubleTake Magazine. During that time, Magill was also a teaching fellow at Harvard University, for which he received the Derek Bok award. He has written for, among other publications, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Policy, American Prospect, Der Spiegel, and Print; and as an illustrator he has produced scores of political cartoons and caricatures for a variety of newspapers, periodicals (e.g. The Believer), posters, and books (e.g. The Ultimate Guide to the US Economy). Since 2005 he has been a staff illustrator at the political bimonthly The American Interest, in Washington, DC.