Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution and a contributing writer of The Atlantic. His previous books include Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought.Rauch resides in Washington, DC.
"Mr Rauch's book is a manifesto for liberals and eccentrics,
which explains how carefully the great, distributed
knowledge-making network has been assembled, how enduring it has
proved--yet how fragile it seems."
"In what could be the timeliest book of the year, Rauch aims
to arm his readers to engage with reason in an age of illiberalism.
Nothing is off limits in this ingenious work which builds on his
Kindly Inquisitors. Anyone curious about the state of American
discourse and culture will devour it."--Juliana Rose Pignataro,
"The digital age was supposed to bring about the blessings of
unlimited knowledge fueled by radically egalitarian free speech
allowing everyone to access, share, and learn from freely available
information to the benefit and progress of all. Instead, an
epistemic crisis supercharged by viral disinformation and
indifference to truth has bred deep cynicism about the benefits of
free speech and the liberal ideals that underpin this increasingly
unpopular idea. In his unputdownable new book, Jonathan Rauch
provides both a surgically precise diagnosis and a promising cure
for the ailments that torment the twenty-first century with its
crisis of authority, distrust, and rampant tribalism. We ignore
Rauch's warning and prescription at our own peril."
--Jacob Mchangama, founder and executive director of Justitia; author of Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media
"Thanks to a global epidemic of nihilistic trolling,
manipulative disinformation, and addictive outrage, modern
democracies are facing an existential challenge: it's not merely
that their citizens don't agree on politics, they don't agree on
the nature of truth itself. In The Constitution of Knowledge,
Jonathan Rauch offers an original definition of this
epistemological crisis, as well as a range of innovative solutions.
It's no exaggeration to say that this is a book that anyone who
cares about truth and democracy needs to read."
--Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
"Liberty, of course, requires constant vigilance, but who
would have thought until recently that the idea of truth needed
defending? Sadly, we now see that it does, but happily, Jonathan
Rauch has come to the rescue of both truth and liberty in this
thought-provoking, essential work."
--Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., president of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana
"Long one of the country's wisest and most honest voices,
Jonathan Rauch has written a hugely valuable and necessary book, an
illuminating exploration of the flight from fact. If, as the Gospel
of John put it, the truth shall set us free, then count Rauch among
--Jon Meacham, historian; author of His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope
"Rauch's graceful and accessible writing takes us into the
abyss of a dark new age, where Trumpian disinformation and even
stifling wokeness threaten the search for truth, but then shows us
the path to reality-based uplands. Rauch proves there really is a
constitution of knowledge, if we can only keep it."
--James Comey, former FBI director; author of A Higher Loyalty and Saving Justice
"The ability to talk in good faith about a shared reality is
a foundational element of civics that we didn't know we had until
we suddenly and surprisingly lost it. Jonathan Rauch explains how
we got it in the first place and how we are now letting it slip
away. His telling of the story is well grounded in history and
philosophy as well as in the very latest dispatches from the meme
wars. Readers will come away from The Constitution of Knowledge not
just concerned about the mess we're in, but also with new ideas as
to how we might dig ourselves out of it."
--Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash and Fall; or Dodge in Hell
"Twenty-five years ago, Jonathan Rauch's Demosclerosis
ignited interest in the problem of government immobilized, like
Gulliver among the Lilliputians, by thousands of threads of
transactions on behalf of factions. Now this singularly talented
analyst addresses an even more dangerous problem--the collapse of
shared standards of truth. He is a James Madison for this era, a
framer of a Constitution of Knowledge."
--George F. Will, author of The Conservative Sensibility
"Why can't we have shared facts anymore? The most profound
and useful answer is contained in this book. Jonathan Rauch shows
us how it is that societies ever come to know things. It is only
after we appreciate the miracle of knowledge production (the
"constitution" of knowledge) that we can understand the tragedy
befalling us now, as key institutions and practices decay. This
book is a magnificent integration of psychology, epistemology, and
history. It is among the three or so most important books I have
read in the last five years. It is a joy to read--deep insight
after deep insight, embedded in playful writing, about one of the
most important problems of the 2020s."
--Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, NYU-Stern School of Business; author of The Righteous Mind; co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind