The Social Animal: Book summary and reviews of The Social Animal by David Brooks

The Social Animal

The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

by David Brooks

The Social Animal by David Brooks X
The Social Animal by David Brooks
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Book Summary

With unequaled insight and brio, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Bobos in Paradise, has long explored and explained the way we live. Now, with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation, Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered, profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday life.

This is the story of how success happens. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica—how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred—we have learned more about the human brain in the last thirty years than we had in the previous three thousand. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind—not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal.
 

Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the “odyssey years” that have come to define young adulthood to the high walls of poverty; from the nature of attachment, love, and commitment, to the nature of effective leadership. He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. Along the way, he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility.

The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. Impossible to put down, it is an essential book for our time, one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory." - Kirkus

"His attempt to inflate recent research on neural mechanisms into a grand worldview yields little except buzz concepts...no more persuasive than the rationalist dogmas he derides." - Publishers Weekly

This information about The Social Animal was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

David Brooks Author Biography

© Dupont Photographers

David Brooks was born in Toronto in 1961 and grew up in New York City in Stuyvesant Town. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1983 with a degree in history. Brooks served as a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

He is the author of several books, including Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (2000), On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense (2004), and The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (2011). He is currently a regular columnist for The New York Times.

... Full Biography

Other books by David Brooks at BookBrowse
  • Bobos In Paradise jacket
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