A dazzling exploration of this universal trait, from an exciting new talent. Read Born Liars, and you'll be stimulated, surprised, and thoroughly entertained. Believe me.

Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds

Born Liars is a genuine achievement: a lively, engaging read that also makes a bold argument about the role of lying in our lives.

Steven Johnson, Author of Where Good Ideas Come From

An absolutely fascinating tour of this most uniquely human of talents: the ability to lie.

Jonah Lehrer, Author of The Decisive Moment

Born Liars reads like the very best of detective stories - an illuminating, surprising and highly entertaining investigation of our daily lies. I lied my way out of a social engagement and stayed up all night to finish it.

Kate Fox, Author of Watching The English

A consistently startling and fascinating book ... It's erudite yet wears its learning lightly and is full of terrific stories. It will also make you see yourself, and the world around you, in a new light.

The Daily Mail

His range of references is fascinating ... I loved the irony and ingenuity of this book.

The Times

A fascinating book.

The Independent


We hate lies and liars. But if lying is wrong, why do we all do it – to others, and to ourselves?

In Born Liars, Ian Leslie takes the reader on an exhilarating tour of ideas that brings the latest news about deception back from the frontiers of psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, and explores the role played by lies – both black and white – in our childhoods, our careers, and our health, as well as in advertising, politics, sport and war. Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Joni Mitchell, the author argues that, far from being a bug in the human software, lying is central to who we are; that we cannot understand ourselves without first understanding the dynamics of deceit.

Born Liars is crammed with gripping stories; we meet Benjamin Franklin in Paris as he takes on Franz Mesmer, who claimed to heal his patients by touching them with iron rods. We join a young doctor on the beach at Anzio in 1944 as he discovers that the best way to help his wounded patients is to lie to them. We peer inside the mind of Saddam Hussein, hear about a spy who beat a lie detector and a man accused of cheating his way to a million pounds on national TV.

After reading Born Liars you’ll never think about lies – or life – in quite the same way again.


“how does it feel,’ wonders the neuroscientist Christof Koch, ‘to be the mute hemisphere, permanently encased in one skull in the company of a dominant sibling that does all the talking?”

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

― Ian Leslie, Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live without Deceit