Self-Made: Creating Our Identities from Da Vinci to the Kardashians

Product Details
$30.00  $27.90
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.4 X 1.2 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author
Tara Isabella Burton is a contributing editor at the American Interest, a columnist at Religion News Service, and the former staff religion reporter at She has written on religion and secularism for National Geographic, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and more, and holds a doctorate in theology from Oxford. She is also the author of two novels Social Creature (Doubleday, 2018) and The World Cannot Give (Simon and Schuster, 2022), and one prior work of non-fiction Strange Rites (PublicAffairs, 2020). She lives in New York, NY.
"A wide-ranging study of self-creation... [Isabella-Burton] concludes that our search for self-definition is ultimately a search for what it means to be human: vulnerable and inextricably interconnected. A thoughtful, well-grounded cultural history." --Kirkus
"Ranging from Aristotle to OnlyFans by way of the Marquis de Sade and Frederick Douglass, Tara Isabella Burton delights, infuriates, and instructs while offering some of the sharpest and most insightful social commentary being written today. This is a book you will not forget."--Walter Russell Mead, author of The Arc of a Covenant
"Self-Made takes the reader on an incredible journey that begins in the Renaissance and ends with the Kardashians, Donald Trump, and Silicon Valley's extropians, tracing the peculiarly modern phenomenon of people who make themselves the objects of their life's work. It is both revelatory and a warning about the ways that focus on the self distorts our individual lives and the broader society."--Francis Fukuyama, author of Liberalism and its Discontents
"This funny, startling, insightful story of the selfie, from Dürer to the Kardashians, is a must-read if you want to understand how we reinvent ourselves every time we reveal ourselves."--Peter Pomerantsev, author of This Is Not Propaganda
"Looking around at the strange terrain of what's now American politics, religion, culture, and media, almost everyone is asking, 'What happened?' and 'What's next?' This book tells us the story behind those questions. Those who wonder why almost every aspect of life seems to be, at best, a reality television series and, at worst, a dark science-fiction drama will need this important work. This book will shift the conversation at perhaps just the right time."--Russell Moore, editor in chief, Christianity Today
"Burton is that rare cultural critic who delivers insight with sass and wears her deep knowledge of history and philosophy with a lightness and grace. A dazzling cast of characters struts across these pages, but Burton is always fully in control; every case study and example accretes to build her argument, for we are not merely self-stylists but shapeshifters, not just makers, but gods."--Marina Benjamin, author of Insomnia and Middlepause
"Burton's thoughtful, beautifully written book charts the engrossing history of the self-made man (and woman) from the genius's Renaissance to present-day reality TV stars. Philosophical, ethical, and pragmatic by turns, Burton urgently interrogates the culturally dominant myths of individualism and self-realization, asking what we lose when we gain what we think we really want: when we make ourselves into gods." --Carolyne Larrington, author of The Norse Myths
"In the spirit of Kurt Andersen's Fantasyland and Barbara Ehrenreich's Bright Sided, Burton delivers a fascinating intellectual and cultural history of our never-ending quest to reinvent ourselves. She masterfully balances high and low culture, ranging from Renaissance sculptors and Parisian dandies to American hucksters and Instagram selfies. Self Made clears through the fog of our current moment and lets us see the methods behind our collective madness. An essential read for our era of Late-Stage Everything."--Jamie Wheal, author of international bestsellers Recapture the Rapture and Stealing Fire
"With clarity and authority, Burton sheds light on how the self-made indulge in the profitable 'fantasy of selling yourself' and provide an escape from reality for their followers. It's an eye-opener."--Publishers Weekly
"It's an important book, and Burton is one the most theologically attuned social critics writing today."--Mosaic Magazine
"[Burton] interrogates how cultural icons invent themselves as aspirational figures and what their tactics reveal about changing social mores. She is able to fit a variety of movements into her analysis: nineteenth-century dandyism, social Darwinism, self-help in all its iterations... entertaining."--Library Journal
"A fast-moving train of a book...Burton is a confident conductor." --The New York Times
"A fun, insightful romp through an identity parade of geniuses, dandies, charlatans, moguls and film stars. It's a journey that culminates in the billions of us with smartphone cameras and social media accounts... we're all now self-makers, whether we like it or not - and this witty, skeptical book is the thought-provoking story of how we got here."--The Guardian
"Burton writes with verve."--The Boston Globe