Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture


‘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

‘Sherwood’s meditation on authenticity is wide-ranging, witty and fresh. From what makes Snapple feel like an authentic brand to vexed debates about what makes a Warhol painting a Warhol painting, it’s a stimulating read.’Tim Harford,Financial Times Best Summer Books 2022

‘Sherwood is the real deal when it comes to exploring authenticity… she takes the reader on a wonderful rollercoaster of a ride to recognise what’s real and what’s illusion’ Marcus du Sautoy

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

‘Fascinating and hugely entertaining … a rich guide to the many forms deceit can take’Brian Eno

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.